Unstuffing Stuffed Cabbage Rolls for Chinese New Year (What?)
By Nancy Eisman
Stuffed cabbage rolls originated in Eastern Europe, and they are a staple comfort dish of many childhoods, including mine. The only problem is that they are a bit labor intensive, i.e., soak the entire cabbage in boiling water, carefully remove whole leaves, make up the filling, fill the rolls, roll the rolls, make a sauce, and then bake or steam for 30-60 minutes.
Whenever I’m drawn to a dish, but want to make it easy on myself, I usually create a sautéed or stir-fried version with all of the flavors and less of the a hassle. Now stay with me here while a veer off in an Asian direction, inspired by Chinese New Year which begins this month on February 12. (Learn more about CNY here.)
By swapping out and adding in a few Asian ingredients I created de-stuffed stuffed cabbage rolls – Chinese style. Savoy cabbage, daikon radish, Chinese 5-spice, toasted sesame seeds, jasmine rice, and a sauce starring hoisin, rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy and sweet chili sauces, and a few squeezes of lemon juice, create the sweet and sour flavors and textures of the Eastern European original, with a Far Eastern flair.
De-stuffed Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – Chinese Style
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce or sriracha
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, diced
1 cup daikon radish, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
¾ teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1 package soy ground
4 cups savoy cabbage, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
2½ cups jasmine rice, cooked
3 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
In a large sauté or stir-fry pan, cook the shallots, carrots and daikon over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Stir in the Chinese 5-Spice, garlic and ginger and cook another minute.
Add in the soy ground and cook about 3 minutes.
Add in the chopped cabbage and the diced tomatoes and stir while cooking for another 3-4 minutes until the cabbage is tender.
Add in the cooked rice and stir to combine. Pour over the sauce and stir again.
Garnish with the green onion and sesame seeds.