In Spain and Mexico, fish and other perishable foods are cooked in a seasoned vinegar mixture; these escabèche are then served warm or, more commonly, eaten the next day at room temperature. Though neither mushrooms nor red cabbage can claim to be particularly perishable, they are delicious given the same tangy treatment.
Food & Wine JANUARY 1998
1. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 1/2 cups of the water and 1 teaspoon of the salt to a boil. Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in the butter. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is very thick, about 20 minutes. Cover to keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, in a large deep frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, oregano, and jalapeño. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
3. Add all the mushrooms, the cabbage, and 1 cup of the water to the pan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce the heat to moderately low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons salt and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more. Stir in the cilantro and serve over the polenta.
Wine Recommendation: Made from tempranillo, Spain's greatest red grape, Riojas offer wonderful concentrated roasted-berry flavors. Long aging in oak barrels gives them a supple, round texture and a complex spiciness that makes them great accompaniment for this escabèche.
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