Dirt to Table Experience: Asian Cabbage Rolls

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.

38 thoughts on “Dirt to Table Experience: Asian Cabbage Rolls

  1. Beautiful! Definitely love to bake the cabbage rolls instead as we usually blanch the leaves and wrap in the meat into it then bring to steam… a little too much work 😀


  2. This is certainly a different twist on the cabbage roll. I know I would love it, but not sure about my guys. I loved the story behind your introduction to the cabbage roll. I also have great memories of the traditional cabbage roll dish in our family. My mom is famous (in the family) for her version of them. I follow her footsteps and make them too.


  3. This is really a nice post Velva. Always like hearing about people from the past who have influenced our cooking. Alice is the kind of person I'd love to meet. I've never made cabbage rolls and have always wanted to. Have you ever posted her original recipe? Being a cabbage lover, I'm sure I'd love your asian version.


  4. You know – I think I cold weather (for TX anyway) made me blow right on through all my comfort foods and I'm now craving all Asian all the time. This is PERFECT and I suppose still very comforting but in a lighter, fresher way. Thanks for reading my mind Velva!


  5. I was recipe planning last night and cabbage rolls made the list. So happy to find this recipe. I'm definitely going to try this version. They sound delicious!


  6. What a new, fun take on cabbage rolls. I will confess to never making them – growing up Italian – it was not instinct. But I do love them at my favorite Ukranian restaurant! The Asian flavors are inspired.


  7. I have never thought to do cabbage rolls before. I love cabbage- the texture and crunch it has and this would be the perfect substitute for bread. LOVE THIS SO MUCH. I love hearing more about your life and growing up and the story of Alice. So many people have end up having such an impact on our lives without us realizing it at that point in time


  8. This is an excellent recipe. I have seen meat rolled in cabbage before but this is different and very inventive. I love the mushroom filling.Bookmarking this one. Great presentation too!


  9. Growing up in Western PA I was able to have a lot of cabbage rolls and I love them! I am thankful for the Polish settlers in that part of the state who introduced me to cabbage rolls, haluski and pierogies. This version looks really tasty too.


  10. We have been getting oversized cabbages here and I have been doing my share of stuffing leaves. This recipe sounds wonderful and a welcome change from the usual stuffed cabbage leaves. Love all these flavors!


  11. Ok…this is the second post I looked at since I found your blog and I can tell this is going to be a favorite! You've just helped me plan my menu this week!


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