The Coolest Menu Item at the Moment Is … Cabbage?

If I were a vegetable, I would hire cabbage’s brand manager.

Cabbage has spent an eternity as the workhorse of the stir-fry and the braise, the quiet companion to endless duck legs and pulled pork sandwiches. It never complained, even when boiled with corned beef or shoved into a crock for months.

But today, a vegetable that can make your house smell like a 19th-century tenement is the darling of the culinary crowd.

Leaves of purple cabbage have been enlisted to swaddle mapo tofu at Poltergeist, the current culinary fascination in Los Angeles. At Superiority Burger in New York City, cabbage gently enrobes sticky rice studded with tofu and braised mushrooms.

Fancy dishes that cast cabbage in a leading role have been popular on the coasts for some time, but they’re now making their way onto menus across the country. At Good Hot Fish in Asheville, N.C., shredded green cabbage stars in a pancake punched up with sorghum hot sauce. In Denver, Sap Sua sprinkles a charred wedge with anchovy breadcrumbs. Cabbage is bathed in brown-butter hollandaise at Gigi’s Italian Kitchen in Atlanta.

Dishes that focus on cabbage are gaining in popularity, like this one at Coquette in New Orleans made with turnip ravigote, Parmesan and scallions.Credit…Edmund D. Fountain

“It’s like bacon was in the 1990s,” said Michael Stoltzfus, who has two cabbage dishes on his menu at Coquette in New Orleans.

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