Dirt to Table Experience: Asian Cabbage Rolls

PUBLISHED ON: 01.11.2013

My random thoughts are endless, and to prove it, I was recently pondering cabbage rolls.  How did I come to love stuffed cabbage rolls?  Where did I learn to make them ?  Scary stuff isn’t it?

In my late teens, I worked at a popular retail department store along side a much older woman named Alice.  Alice was a feisty Polish-American woman who never forgave her husband for passing away before their 50th Wedding Anniversary.  I adored her.  Every potluck event she provided stuffed cabbage rolls, and each  time she reminded me that the best cabbage rolls were made with tomato juice, not tomato sauce, and raisins, not brown sugar.  At the time it meant absolutely nothing to me. Turn the clock forward, and I realize that I have been making Alice’s stuffed cabbage recipe for close to thirty-years.  I am always struck by the influences which at the time seem uneventful, with no meaning that somehow later in life have real meaning and influence.

This year I took a walk on the wild side. I was inspired to make a new style of cabbage rolls.  With that mind, I took a boldly flavored pork filling using a host of Chinese flavors including, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, cilantro, chili garlic sauce and baked the cabbage rolls, tightly foiled,  in a savory broth. What I got was a nutritionally dense cabbage roll, that had the Asian flavors of a spring egg roll that had been steamed and dipped into the sweet chili garlic sauce.

Definitely not your mothers cabbage rolls but, still delicious.  If you are looking for something a little different with a little more pizzaz but not more comfort, then I encourage you to go for it.

Asian Cabbage Rolls
Makes 4 servings (12 rolls)
Recipe from Cuisine at Home

For the cabbage rolls, combine:
12 oz. ground pork
2 pkg. shitake mushrooms, stemmed and chopped (3.5 oz. each)
3/4 cup cooked white or brown rice
3/4 cup frozen shelled edamame
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. each minced garlic and fresh ginger
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
12 large outer napa cabbage leaves
For the sauce, whisk:
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1/4 cup each rice vinegar and low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce
1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
For the cabbage rolls, combine:
Pork, mushrooms, 3/4 cup rice, edamame, cilantro, scallions, carrot, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. oil, garlic, 1 Tbsp. ginger, salt and pepper flakes.
Roll cabbage leaves with a rolling pin until the stem side is flat, smooth, and pliable.
Scoop 1/3 cup cup pork mixture onto the stem of each flattened leaf.  Starting at the stem end, roll up each leaf, folding in the sides as you roll.  Arrange each roll, seam side down, in a 3-quart baking dish.
For the sauce, whisk: 
Together broth, vinegar, 1/4 sup soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, 1 Tbsp. ginger, 1 Tbsp oil, brown sugar, and cornstarch; pour over cabbage rolls in dish.  Tightly cover dish with foil.
Bake cabbage rolls until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the roll registers 160 degrees F, 30-35 minutes.  Serve rolls with additional rice and drizzled with sauce.

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