Each culture has its own method of making cabbage rolls. I particularly like these because of my affinity to fish sauce. I'll say it again, fish sauce can transform a very traditional and dull dish into a flavourful one. These cabbage rolls have been a family favourite for years in my household. We prepared them baked, pan-fried or steamed. My preference is the less healthy version, pan-fried because of the edges of the cabbage that turn into a crisp golden crust. Quite tasty.
However, when cooked in bamboo steamers, the rolls taste so fresh (almost “organic”), they retain their vibrant colour and crunch and the meat stays very moist.
Preparation: 30 minutes, Cooking time: 20 minutes
Recipe "au pif":
12 cabbage leaves (blanched in boiling water for about 2 minutes)
3/4 lb ground pork (ground turkey will work just as well)
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup black chanterelle (aka trumpet of death) mushrooms, soaked and softened in warm water and finely chopped (found in fruit and vegetable stores - black chinese mushrooms can also be used)
1/4 cup cooked white rice (room temperature)
4 tbsp fish sauce (more or less to taste)
1/2 tsp black ground pepper
Scallions cut lengthwise into long thin julienne strips, blanched to soften them (used to tie the rolls)
3 tomatoes chopped in cubes
1/4 lb ground pork
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp red hot chili paste
1 tbsp vegetable oil
How to make the filling:Mix the 3/4 lb pork, onion, mushroom, cooked rice, egg, fish sauce and black pepper in a large bowl. Mix well until all ingredients are well blended together. Put aside.
Starting with one cabbage leaf, use about 1 tbsp of filling and lay the filling starting near the edge of the leaf. Cut away the short stem to remove stiffness. With your hands, shape the filling into a strip about 2 ½ inch long. Fold the sides of the leaf over the filling. Tightly press and roll the filling into the cabbage to make a nice roll.
Repeat with the rest of the leaves and filling until you run out of ingredients.
Use two bamboo steamer baskets.
Place bamboo steamers, one on top of the other, in a large wok filled with about 3/4 cup water (water should barely touch the bottom of the bamboo steamer). Turn heat on medium-high.
Place about 6 cabbage rolls in each basket and cover.
Let the rolls steam for about 15 minutes, or until the pork is cooked (you can see through the cabbage when it is no longer pink).
Preparing the sauce:
Heat oil in a medium sized sauce pan.
Add the 1/4 ground pork and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the pork is broken down into small bits and until well cooked.
Add the tomatoes, fish sauce and chili paste and stir for about 30 seconds.
Cover, lower heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
Serve cabbage rolls with steamed white jasmine rice and ladle a bit of tomato sauce over the rolls.
Serves 4-6 people.