Although we had lots of celebrations in the last few weeks, the festive season is not over yet. The Chinese New Year is coming on the way! I’ve been thinking what I can contribute for this big day, and this recipe came up to my mind: cabbage rolls!
It seems like any region that can grow cabbage somehow uses the leaves to wrap something. The search online shows all kinds of cabbage rolls from Europe, Middle Eastern to Asia… How interesting to realize that people from different places and backgrounds use the same ingredients, even the same methods to cook the food, which can turn out to be totally different taste! The humble cabbage is often used to make stir-fried shredded cabbage in Chinese cuisine, while it’s turned into coleslaw and sauerkraut in western cuisines. It provides the most nutrients and antioxidants for the value of your money compared to other produce. It has the potential to be so much more, and it can be pretty fancy when we roll them!
Let’s start with gently pulling off the cabbage leaves, boil them until tender, shave off the hard ribs and stuff the leaves with a combination of your preferable veggies and grains, layer them into a pan or casserole, pour a sauce over top, cover and simmer. For the filling, I combined some fresh veggies with steamed rice. For the sauce, I simply cooked the chopped tomatoes with sautéed onions and garlic. This dish is a winter delight, needs a little extra patience to make, hearty and delicious, absolutely an eye-catcher!
8 large cabbage leaves
1 medium sized onion, chopped
6 mushrooms, chopped
a handful peas
3 garlic cloves, chopped
a few sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
100g steamed rice
1 can chopped tomatoes (or 400g fresh tomatoes)
half tsp smoked cayenne pepper
salt and pepper, olive oil
fresh parsley for garnishing
1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil over high heat. Cook cabbage leaves for 10 minutes until soft. Drain and keep aside.
2. Put another small pot on medium heat. Add in oil, a spoonful onions and garlic, smoked cayenne pepper, sautéed until brown. Pour in the tomatoes, turn to low heat, simmer for 10 minutes. Mix in a blender until smooth, set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large pan, sautéed the rest of onions and garlic until fragrant. Add in the mushrooms, peas and sun-dried tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste, stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the steamed rice in the pan, and 3 Tbsp tomato sauce, mix well.
4. Place the filling in the cabbage leaves and roll up to the shape you like. Assemble the cabbage rolls in a large pan or a casserole, pour in the sauce, put the lid on, let it simmer on medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle some fresh herbs to give a bit garnishing. Bon Appétit and Happy Chinese New Year folks!