It was the perfect antidote to a wet and sloppy snow day. I got to use my casserole dish to make something warm and comforting, without having to feel like a character out of Mad Men. Just about every recipe in this book is highly adaptable depending on what you have in your kitchen. I adapted a few bits for the Asian Cabbage Rolls, but nothing serious. I made half the recipe with ground turkey and the other half with pork. Both were great, so I would suggest using whatever ground meat you happen to have, if this is a snow-day project for you, too.
I also wrapped some of the rolls with radicchio; since the purple leaves are more round than napa cabbage, they are generally easier to wrap and they also maintain a prettier color than the rather expired hue of cooked green cabbage. The trade-off is radicchio leaves are more of a pain to separate from each other.
These cabbage rolls take more than a cue from the spicy gingered pork inside Chinese dumplings. They’re stuffed with the fresh flavors of cilantro, soy sauce, sesame, and scallion.
CASSEROLE DISH: 9 × 13-inch baking dish
BAKE TIME: 35 minutes
1 large head napa cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound ground pork or turkey
1/2 cup cooked white rice
1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, grated or 2 teaspoons garlic paste
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
FOR THE SAUCE:
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 - 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce, to taste (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove 12 large outer leaves from the heads of cabbage. Roll each leaf with a rolling pin gently to flatten and smooth it. Core the remaining cabbage and chop it very fine. Sprinkle it with the salt and set aside in a colander.
In a large bowl, mix the pork, rice, mushrooms, beaten eggs, sesame oil, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a generous amount of black pepper. Stir in the scallions
and cilantro. Press and drain any remaining water off the salted cabbage and stir the cabbage in as well.
Lay a prepared cabbage leaf down with the stem end facing you. Place about 2⁄3 cup meat mixture into the stem end of the cabbage leaf. Fold in the sides and roll up the leaf, then place the bundle, seam side down, in one of the baking dishes. Re- peat with the rest of the cabbage leaves and meat mixture, placing 2 rows of 6 rolls in each dish. (If you have any leftover mixture it can be rolled into meatballs and tucked between the cabbage rolls to bake with them.)
To make the sauce, whisk together all the ingredients in a small bowl and pour it over the cabbage rolls, dividing it between the 2 baking dishes. (At this point the rolls can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. You can also freeze one dish for later use. Before adding the sauce, place the dish in the freezer and let the rolls freeze completely, then remove from the dish and stack in a freezer bag or con- tainer. To bake, thaw the rolls in the refrigerator overnight, place in a baking dish, pour the sauce over them, and bake as directed below.)
Bake for 35 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a roll at the center of a dish registers 160° F. Serve drizzled with the pan juices.
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(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)