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Slice the sausage on the diagonal into thin coins a scant ¼ inch thick. Put in a small heatproof saucer or bowl, then steam over high heat for 10 minutes, or until the fatty portion of the sausage is translucent and there is a pool of rendered fat in the bottom of the dish. Turn off the heat and leave the sausage in the steamer until you are ready to use it.
While the sausage is steaming, rinse the rice repeatedly. Leave the rice to drain in the sieve.
Cut the cabbage crosswise into bands ½ inch thick. If you are using miniature cabbages, separate the crisp ribs and leafy tops into two small bowls. If you are using the more common Chinese cabbage, use only the crisp inner ribs and core. Leave any baby cabbages you may find at the core uncut and slice any tender base pieces into wedges or thin coins.
Have all the ingredients within easy reach of your stovetop. Put a serving bowl or individual rice bowls in a low oven to warm.
Choose a heavy, 2–2½-quart saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and set over high heat until hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. While the pot is heating, drain the liquefied fat from the sausage into a ⅛-cup measure (equal to 2 tablespoons). Add enough corn or peanut oil to fill the measure.
Add the fat to the hot pot, swirl to glaze the bottom, then reduce the heat to medium-high. When the fat is hot enough to sizzle a piece of crisp cabbage, add the cabbage. (If you are using the baby cabbage and have a bowl of stems and one of leaves, add the stems at this point, toss for 15 seconds, then add the leaves.) Toss the cabbage with chopsticks or a wooden spoon to glaze the pieces with the oil, adjusting the heat so they sizzle without scorching. Sprinkle with salt, and continue to toss until the cabbage softens slightly and lessens in bulk, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle with wine, toss, then add the sausage to the pot and toss to combine. Add the drained rice, and toss well to mix the ingredients, and glaze the rice with the oil, about 1 minute.
Add the water to the pot, stir to combine, then raise the heat to bring the water to a full rolling boil, with large bubbles over the surface. Boil vigorously for a full 2 minutes, stir once or twice, then cover the pot. Reduce the heat to low (if you are working on an electric stove, switch the pot to a low burner rather than wait the extra minutes for the coil to cool), and simmer the rice for 20 minutes. Do not open the lid. Check the simmer by putting your ear next to the pot (you can hear the mild bubbling within), and by watching the lid for wisps of steam.
After 20 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let it sit undisturbed for 15 minutes. Do not lift the lid even a peek, or you will dispel the steam that is at work cooking the rice. At the end of the 15 minutes, remove the lid and fluff the rice gently with a fork or chopsticks.
Serve the rice immediately. Or, cover the pot and the rice will stay warm for another 10–15 minutes before the sausage grows chewy.
Leftover rice is delicious at room temperature. It may also be rewarmed by steaming in a covered pot over high heat until hot. (Steaming turns the fat in the sausage coins translucent and tender, which reheating in the oven will not do.)
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.