These cabbage rolls are based on a classic Russian dish that my mom used to make back in the days when we were still living in Russia. In my version I replaced minced meat with sticky rice and veggies and by adding Chinese five spice and sweet and sour sauce I almost transformed it into a Chinese take out dish. A healthier version that is 😉
- Large cabbage (I love the oxheart cabbage, because the leaves are softer)
- 1,5 cup / 180 gr. White rice
- 150 gr. Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1 large stalk of spring onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 tbsp coconut sugar (or to taste)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp arrow root powder or corn starch
- ½ tsp chilli powder/flakes
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- salt to taste
- red bell pepper, in large chunks
- sesame seeds (optional)
- coriander (optional)
- oil for sautéing
Step1: Cook the rice according to the instructions. Don’t rinse the rice too much. It will wash off all of the starch and leave you with a dry grain instead of sticky rice.
Step 2: Heat up 3-4 litres of water in a large pot. Remove the core from the cabbage by cutting around it with a small knife. Plunge the cabbage in boiling water for 30 seconds and take it out. This makes it easier to remove the leaves one by one. You should be able to get 6 to 8 large leaves from a cabbage. Blanch the cabbage leaves for 30 more seconds in the same pot and set aside to cool.
Step3: Finely chop the rest of your cabbage and sauté this in a skillet along with the mushrooms and 2 cloves of crushed garlic. When the veggies are golden brown, deglaze with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce (or to taste) and turn off the heat. Mix the sautéed veggies with the rice and stir in Chinese five spice and chopped spring onion. I love to use small amounts of five spice because of the strong taste. If you are a lover of that specific flavour you can naturally add a bit more.
Step 4: warm up a tablespoon of oil in a large pot or deep skillet. (I’m using rice oil this time) and add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and grated ginger. Let the oil infuse for a minute. Don’t brown the garlic. Add the tomato puree and stir for a minute. Cover with 500 millilitres of water. These measurements are suitable for 8 rolls. Stir well and add 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, chilli powder, coconut sugar, apple cider vinegar and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce. Add a mix of 1 tablespoon of arrow root powder and 1 tablespoon of water to the sauce for a thicker texture.
Step 5: in the meantime you can make the rolls. Flatten the cabbage leaf stems by trimming them with a knife. Lay them flat, hollow side up. Scoop in the filling. I always start at the thicker part of the leaf. Roll up the leaf like a burrito, keeping the filling tightly packed. You can also check out my video for instructions.
Step 6: When all of the rolls are done, lay them in the sweet and sour sauce and cover with a smaller lid or plate to leave space for the sauce to reduce. Add red bell pepper chunks and simmer for ten more minutes.
Step7: serve the cabbage rolls with some fresh coriander and sesame seeds on top.