Friday, 27 March 2015

Lion's Head Cabbage Rolls

Can't finish winter if I haven't made any cabbage rolls! This is a (slight) variation on a classic Chinese dish. It's usually made with  nappa cabbage or bok choy, but Savoy cabbage works very well, and will be available right now. Shiitake mushrooms are more traditional than the button mushrooms, but yeah, button mushrooms were the ones I had. Jerusalem artichokes make a great stand in for water chestnuts, but if you can't find them just omit them; like water chestnuts they add more texture than flavour.

4 servings
1 hour - 40 minutes prep time

Make the Filling:
2 or 3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely minced peeled fresh ginger
4 to 6 large Jerusalem artichokes
500 grams (1 pound) lean ground pork
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sherry
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot starch

Put a large pot of water on to boil.

Wash, trim and chop the green onions. Peel and mince the ginger. Peel and finely chop the Jerusalem artichokes, if you are using them. Put them all in a mixing bowl with the ground pork, eggs, sherry, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, and starch, and mix until evenly blended.

Finish the Dish:
8 outer leaves from a medium Savoy cabbage
250 grams (1/2 pound) shiitake or button mushrooms
2 tablespoons bacon fat or vegetable oil
4 cups chicken or pork stock
a slice of ginger
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon tapioca starch or arrowroot starch

Separate the outer leaves from the cabbage carefully, keeping them whole and undamaged. Trim out the tough lower stems. Drop them, a few at a time, into the boiling water, and boil them for a minute or two. Remove them with tongs or a large slotted spoon, and rinse them under cold water  until they are cool enough to handle. Drain them well.

Put 1/8 of the meat mixture in the middle of each leaf, and fold it up into a neat roll. Repeat with the remaining leaves and meat mixture.

Clean and trim the mushrooms, removing the stems entirely if you are using shiitake mushrooms. Cut them into strips or quarters.

Heat the fat or oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms, and cook them until softened and slightly browned, then remove them from the pan. Add the cabbage rolls in a single layer, then pour about a cup of chicken stock into the pan. Add a slice of ginger to the pan, and return the mushrooms to it as well. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

Turn the cabbage rolls over. add the sesame oil and soy sauce, and all of the remaining chicken stock except for about 1 cup. Cover and simmer the cabbage rolls for another 10 minutes.

Mix the remaining chicken stock with the tapioca or arrowroot starch. Remove the cabbage rolls to a serving dish, leaving the broth in the pan. Stir the last of the chicken stock and starch into the pan of broth, and simmer until thickened (just a minute or two). Pour the sauce over the cabbage rolls.

Last year at this time I made Parsnips with Prunes & Lemon, and Mock Chicken Stock.

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