Long Nappa Cabbage Rolls
The characteristics of Long Nappa Chinese cabbage are identical to ordinary Chinese cabbage but it has a leaner and more elegant looking body. I was definitely seduced by its handsomeness. One draw back is the cost. I hesitated for a few seconds and then put it in the basket. Hmmm what can I make with this? I had this cabbage roll recipe by Hiromi Sekioka who is a food researcher and food stylist in Japan. She has written several cookbooks also and I wanted to try it for a while. The recipe calls for a trio of meat - beef, pork and chicken to bring out a complex flavor. Her recipe used regular cabbage obviously and that’s neo-traditional but since I have this ‘special’ kind of cabbage, why not? I broke the mold and changed it here and there to create my own version but the essence still remains. This clearly belongs to Slow Food category.
Ingredients and instruction for 4 cabbage rolls
- Napa Chinese cabbage or regular cabbage 4-6 leaves. Have an extra in case of tearing.
- 1/2 of onion, minced. For great texture, onion must be finely minced.
- 1 Tablespoon of butter
- Japanese style bread crumb (panko) 1/3 cup
- Milk 1/4 cup
- Ground beef 160g
- Ground pork 160g
- Ground chicken breast 70g. I ground it myself with a food processer.
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon (about) of pepper (white preferred)
- 1/2 teaspoon (about) of nutmeg
- Dry the cabbage by leaving it on a colander or shallow basket for 2-3 hours until leaves are wilted. The drying eliminates the need for cooking cabbage separately. I shaved a bit of the white part of the leaf so that it was thinner to make rolling it up easier.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté onion until onion turns transparent. Let it cool. Set aside. I skip this process and simply mixed with meat without sautéing. Sautéing onion perhaps bring out more umami flavor.
- Soak bread crumbs in milk. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix all three meats, sprinkle with salt and knead until color of meat gets whitish and texture is stretchy; about 2-3 minutes by hand.
- Add onion, soaked bread crumb, egg, pepper and nutmeg and mix well.
- Put plastic wrap directly over the meat mixture and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
Make Vegetable Bullion
- 1 carrots chopped
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 celery with leaf chopped
- 1-2 green onion cut in 2 inches length
- 2 Garlic skinned and crushed with meat tenderizer or rolling pin.
- 5 cups of water
- 1/3 cup of white wine
- Salt, pepper to taste
- 1-2 bay leaves (optional)
Rolling up and Cooking
Making drop lid – Place large sheet of parchment paper on top of pan that you’re using. Make a crease along side edge of pan. Cut creased line with scissors then make a cross slit in the middle of the circle.
- 1-14.5 oz. can of tomato, I used diced tomatoes. If it’s whole tomato, crushed with your hand over the pan before adding.
- 4 slices of bacon – cut in small strips
- Bay leaves 1 or 2
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parsley leaves chopped small (optional).
- Spread about some of meat mixture on top of wilted cabbage leaf leaving 1/2 inch space at either end. Roll up from stem side as tightly as possible. Secure the end with toothpicks if you like. Push the meat in from both sides to prevent the meat mixture from coming out during the cooking process. Suggestion; If there is any left over meat, make hamburger patties or meat balls, put it in air tight bag and keep refrigerated or freeze it for later use.
- Lay the rolled cabbage seam side down in the pan. Do the rest of cabbage. Fill the empty space with extra cabbage leaf to prevent the rolls from moving.
- Pour vegetable bullion to barely cover the cabbage rolls (use left over for soup later). Pour a can of chunk tomato in, add bacon, salt, pepper, and 2 bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover with your prepared drop lid and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes.
- Put a cabbage roll in a soup bowl then spoon over some liquid and bacon. Sprinkle on parsley for color. Serve immediately, like now!
I made myself busy by making four apple cakes in the morning then took three of them to three ladies in the afternoon and visited with them. The last precious cake I enjoyed with my family. I am failing off my diet…way off.