After making my slaw the other day I had a bunch of red and white cabbage still laying around the house, and I started thinking of things I could do with it for dinner. The first thing that obviously pops into mind is stuffed cabbage, but honestly I can’t stand traditional stuffed cabbage. It’s so boring and it brings back memories of going to Grandma’s house and everything stinking of boiled cabbage.
But wait, what if I put a little twist on it? What if I do it with Asian flavors and keep the cabbage a little crisper so it’s not a soggy mess… hmmm. Sounds good to me!
Ingredients (stuffed cabbage):
1 Head of White Cabbage
1/2lb Ground Beef (I prefer 80/20)
1/2lb Ground Pork
1 Large Egg
1c Unseasoned Panko
1/3c Scallion, chopped
2tsp Dark Brown Sugar
2tsp Ground Ginger
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2tsp Garlic Powder
1/2tsp Onion Powder
1tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce (for filling)
1/2c Chicken Stock
1/2c Low Sodium Soy Sauce (for cooking)
1/2lb Fettuccine or Spaghetti
3 Large Carrots, ribboned
1/2 Head of Red Cabbage, julienne
3 Cloves Garlic, chopped
8oz Baby Portobello Mushrooms, sliced
1/2c Frozen Peas, thawed
1/2c Scallion, chopped
1tbsp Olive Oil
1tsp Salt, two 1/2tsp portions
1/2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2tsp Ground Ginger
1/2tsp Garlic Powder
1/2c Low Sodium Soy Sauce
You might be wondering what I mean when I say to “ribbon” the carrots. Very simple, peel them, then use the peeler to slice the carrots along their length to create ribbons, periodically rotating it so you do not have ribbons that are the full width of the carrot. Or if you have a mandolin you can use a large julienne setting to achieve this.
In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients listed under stuffed cabbage, with the exception of the cabbage. Use your hands to mix everything together very well, then place in the fridge to set. This is something you could do the day before and keep in the fridge covered in plastic wrap over night, it would allow the flavors to really build.
Heat your oven to 350F.
Bring water to a boil in a large sauce pot. Peel leaves from the head of white cabbage and boil them just long enough to soften, 1.5-2 minutes. You want them pliable, but not soggy. You’ll need 12 good sized leaves to use as wrappers. Allow the leaves to cool slightly. Place approximately 1 1/2oz of filling into each leaf. To roll the the leaves tuck in the sides, fold the top of the leaf (closest to you) over the filling and roll away from you. Picture that you’re wrapping up a sub, hoagie, torpedo… whatever you call it in your neck of the woods. Same idea. Place the rolls in a 9×13 baking pan with the loose edge of the leaves facing down so they don’t unravel. Pour the chicken stock and soy sauce over the cabbage rolls, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.
The noodles are quick and easy, so there’s no need to start it until you have 20 minutes left on the cabbage.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large sauce pot. Boil your pasta for 2 minutes less than the instructions on the box recommend.
While the pasta is boiling, heat the olive oil at medium-high in a deep sauté pan or medium sauce pot. Add you garlic and sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/2tsp salt, cook until they start to brown. Add the red cabbage, carrot ribbons and peas along with 1/2tsp each of salt, black pepper, ground ginger and garlic powder. Continue to cook at medium heat, stirring periodically. Once the pasta is finished, drain and add to the vegetables, along with the soy sauce and honey. Reduce temperature to medium-low and simmer until the stuffed cabbage is done, stirring periodically. Add your chopped scallions just before you pull the cabbage out of the oven.
Once the hour is up go ahead and plate. Personally I put the pasta down as a nest and place the stuffed cabbage on top. Ladle some of the juices from the baking pan over the rolls.
As far as wine pairings go, I find that lightly sweet white wines or Sake’s are ideal to pair with Asian cuisine. Here are four bottles that I would strongly recommend.
Boundary Breaks Riesling No.239 Dry, Finger Lakes, NY – Boundary Breaks is a newly established winery on the eastern shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes, and in my opinion, they have immediately established themselves as one of the top producers in the region. They are only in their second vintage, and the wines are beyond gorgeous. Bruce Murray’s dream was to create world class Riesling from New York State that could stand up to the top wineries of the Mosel and Alsace… Mission accomplished sir! So their No.239 Dry (No.239 referring to the Geisenheim 239 Riesling clone used for this bottling) is not a sweet Riesling, with only 0.6% residual sugar. It is beautifully floral and bright, but still has a slightly fuller mouth feel. On the palate you’ll find notes of Meyer lemon, orange blossom honey and white peach, as well as hints of smoke, tea leaves, and crushed granite. Production on these wines is TINY, with only 350 cases made of the No.239, so needless to say it’s going to be a challenge to find outside of New York… but for the rest of you there are a handful of boutiques that are selling the wine online, just let your fingers do the walking. And if you want to learn more about Bruce and BB, check out their website, it’s pretty awesome! http://boundarybreaks.com/ (Retail $16-20)
Trapet Gewurztraminer Beblenheim, Alsace, FR – Domaine Trapet was established in 1870 in Gevrey-Chambertin, and over the past century plus have proven themselves to be one of the top producers in this prestigious appellation. In 1993 the newest Trapet generation took over, under the guidance of Jean-Louis Trapet, and he seamlessly continued on with the family’s impeccable reputation. While Jean-Louis’s family had holdings in Burgundy, his wife’s family owned vineyards in Alsace and he decided it would be interesting to produce some wines from their vineyards as a fun little side project. So here we have the Gewurztraminer from their holdings in the Beblenheim Vineyard. I would rate the wine as a demi-sec (semi-dry), while there is residual sugar there is still a nice balancing acidity. On the palate you’ll find notes of lychee, mango and meyer lemon, with very subtle minerality in the mid-palate and finish. This one will likely be difficult to find with only 400 cases made per vintage, but it’s worth the search! (Retail $18-22)
J.J. Prum Riesling Kabinett, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, GER – J.J. Prum is one of the top Riesling producers of Germany. Many of their wines are relatively expensive, but their entry level Kabinett drinks like it’s $40, but costs around $20. Medium bodied, the wine exhibits notes of overripe papaya, lime, and vanilla, with a subtle hints of granite and spicy smoke. Throughout the palate a mild acidity help cut through the richness of the wine. With nearly 6,000 cases of this wine produced it’s a bit easier to find than most of my recommendations. You can drink this early, or even lay it down for up to 30 years. (Retail $18-23)
Rihaku Wandering Poet Junmai Ginjo Sake, Shimane, JAP – Rihaku was founded in 1882, named after a famous Chinese poet from the 8th century, Li Po (Rihaku in Japanese), who was apparently a notorious drunk. It was common to hear him say “I drink a bottle and can write 100 poems!” The Wandering Poet is a truly beautiful and complex Sake that is best served slightly chilled. On the palate you’ll find subtle notes of banana, honeydew, crushed flower and aromatic green tea that all play beautifully together. Production is moderate, so this should be readily available in most major markets. (Retail 720ml $32-36)
So there you have it. A kickass twist on boring old stuffed cabbage along with some great wines and a Sake to pair it with. More new content will be coming soon. In the meantime crack open some slightly chilled Sake and have yourself a good time. Life is short, enjoy it!