Surkål: Norwegian Christmas cabbage

Enjoy a bit of green for the holiday table

Photo: pelican / Flickr Norwegian Christmas cabbage is essentially a kind of sweet and sour sauerkraut, spiced with caraway seeds.

Photo: pelican / Flickr
Norwegian Christmas cabbage is essentially a kind of sweet and sour sauerkraut, spiced with caraway seeds.

Finn Roed
West Bloomfield, Mich.

This Norwegian version of sauerkraut is a traditional accompaniment to the Christmas table. Unlike its German cousin, surkål is unfermented and easy to make in about an hour.

Use a head of cabbage that has been in your refrigerator a while; try not to use a new cabbage. Why? The old one seems to hold up better in the cooking. Age has its rewards.

A tasty sausage, sliced, or smoked pork hock can also substitute for the bacon, but there ought to be some flavor and fat in it. I sometimes add a couple of bouillon cubes too.

Makes six servings.

Surkål
8 slices bacon
1 large head cabbage, cored and shredded
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. caraway seed
1 pinch salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white vinegar, or to taste
1/2 cup white sugar, or to taste

Lay two slices of bacon across the bottom of a large pot. Cover with a layer of cabbage. Sprinkle a light dusting of flour and a pinch of caraway seed. Season with a little salt and pepper. Repeat layering as many times as possible until you run out of room.

Fill the pot with enough water to come about 3/4 up the side. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 45 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft, stirring occasionally.

Let cool slightly, then stir in the vinegar and sugar. Use your own judgment. Add sugar carefully to taste. The idea is to strike a balance between the sweet and the sour, and therein lies the trick.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 28, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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