• Olia Hercules' friend has dreams about this cabbage dish, because it's so good. (Joe Woodhouse)Source: Joe Woodhouse

Olia Hercules' friend Sean loves this Ukrainian cabbage dish so much, he's actually dreamed about it.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (69 votes)

For a long time I had a real, deep-rooted complex about Ukraine’s cabbage and potato dishes, all too often the only things people in the West associated with Eastern European cooking. But now I embrace them all – none more so than a delicious braised cabbage. This is my mother’s recipe, and it is a pretty common one.

When my Cornish friend Sean cooked it, the next day he texted me these beautiful words: ‘I cannot convey how much I loved the cabbage last night, so amazing. It goes so far to disprove the stereotype. I had dreams about it.’ Needless to say, that made my heart sing!

Serve this as an accompaniment to poultry or sausages, or on its own with some good bread.


  • 1 small white cabbage
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 onions, thickly sliced
  • 1 ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 large red pepper, thickly sliced
  • 100 ml tomato juice (or use the juices from tinned tomatoes)
  • 200 g crème fraîche
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Slice the cabbage into 1cm wide strips and put it into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and use your hands to massage it in well.
2. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or shallow, flameproof casserole over medium-low heat.
3. Add the onions, along with a pinch of salt to help release their juices and stop them from burning. You could also cover the onions with a lid or cartouche (a circle of baking parchment about the same size as your pan) to speed things up a bit. Cook, stirring every so often until the onions are soft and turning a deep golden colour. Add a splash of water if they seem dry or are starting to catch a bit.
4. Now add the cabbage and caraway seeds and turn down the heat to low. Cover with a lid and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the cabbage starts softening. If it gets too dry, add a splash of water. Add the red pepper and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. Gently warm the tomato juice in a small pan, then stir in the crème fraîche and add to the cabbage. Taste the sauce and make sure it is well-seasoned, otherwise, the cabbage will be too bland and it will not become the cabbage of your dreams.
6. Cover and braise for another 30–40 minutes – when it is ready, the cabbage should be soft, but not falling apart. Stir through the parsley and serve.


Recipe and image from Summer Kitchens by Olia Hercules (Bloomsbury Publishing, $49.99).