Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Asian-Inspired Pork Cabbage Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Ukrainian and other Eastern European cultures are well acquainted with the cabbage roll. Every celebratory meal has either the vegetarian or pork-filled option, floating in tomato sauce and while I can get behind a plate of perogies, I never get excited to see the cabbage roll.

This, however, is not the cabbage roll I know. This version is loaded with garlic, ginger, soy, a hint of fish sauce and topped with a nutty overture. I can dig it. In fact I did and have plenty of leftovers. I struggled to find Napa cabbage in good shape (aka Suey Choy) and had fewer cabbage leaves to use than pork filling. I wound up cooking the leftover filling and adding the scraps of cabbage left as a sort of sloppy cabbage roll. There was plenty of the peanut sauce to pour over both the rolls and remaining filling. Rolling the cabbage rolls was easy, but preparing the recipe in one pot is doable and  involves less cleanup.

Whatever you choose, I can assure you'll get excited about these cabbage rolls.

Adapted from: http://fedandfit.com

Serves 4-6


  • 1 head Napa cabbage


  • 2 T salted butter
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1, 2-inch thumb of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 t fish sauce
  • 1 t red pepper flakes

  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 t fish sauce
  • 1 T cider vinegar
  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to simmer and place the head of cabbage, leaves downward into the pot. Let the cabbage poach for 10 minutes. Remove from the water, cut the end off and separate the leaves, laying them on a paper towel to cool and dry.

To kick off the filling, melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the carrots, ginger and garlic. Stir well to combine and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 5 minutes.

Place the carrots in a bowl along with the rest of the filling ingredients and combine the ingredients with your hands to ensure it's well incorporated.

Make the rolls by place about 1/4 cup of the filling on the base of the stem of each leaf. Fold the sides of the cabbage inward and roll towards the end of the leaf. Place the rolls in a 9'X13' baking dish and preheat the oven to 350F.

To make the sauce, heat the sesame oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, whisking the sauce until smooth and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken on its own.

Place the cabbage rolls, neat in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove and add half the sauce over the rolls, returning them to the oven for another 15 minutes.

Serve on a bed of rice, quinoa, freekeh or neat with chopped cilantro to garnish.