Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Keep On Rolling

Involtini di Cavolo Cappuccio in Umido all'Asiatica
Asian-Styled Steamed Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed cabbage- a Winter favorite the world over and known and loved by all in one form or another- another favorite comfort food and one I had not made for a long time! So it was long overdue!

This evening, I decided to improvise and Asian-inspired preparation- simple, un-fussy and delicious. Just the way I always like my food to be.

To be honest, I was originally intending to use a completely different method for stuffing this tiny cabbage- but as the leaves began to peel away, each one but the size of the palm of my hand, I was suddenly inspired to take advantage of the shape and size and made them much simpler. Why stress, when you can save work and do less?

This is, yet again, another of those recipes, where basically, you will only know how much of each ingredient you are going to need, depending on the size of the cabbage you use. So it will vary. But have a look at what I did and use it as a rough guideline and you should be fine.

Ok- the cabbage I used was a very small one- just about the size of a grapefruit- but this had great advantages- because the leaves and their stalks are much more tender and they are also easier to handle. I had 250g of ground pork and this proved to be enough filling for me to make 12 small rolls. That that meant of course, 12 little cabbage leaves. Otherwise, all I needed was a little fresh ginger, a small green pepper, a little fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice powder, 1 teaspoon of miso paste and 1 teaspoon of Chinese chili-red bean paste.

The result was rich, mildly spicy, sweet, savory and healthy, feel-good food, Perfect with rice, potatoes or a hunk of bread- this is good Winter fare that does not taste wildly exotic, but is also not that plain old bland old-fashioned dish of yesteryear. It's just plain GOOD!

Begin by making your pork filling, by adding about 2" of finely chopped ginger, the finely chopped pepper (without seeds), a little finely chopped parsley, the chili-bean paste and the 5-spice powder. Stir together, knead together and make sure you get all of the ingredients evenly mixed-in.

There is plenty of seasoning in that bean paste, so you will not need any salt or pepper- it is like using soy sauce and has chili in there- which is excellent! 

Pluck apart a few leaves, give them a rinse and shake them dry... and you are ready to roll!

Scoop around 1 heaped teaspoon of filling onto the thin end of the cabbage leaf and roll-shut towards the stalk end. Give the roll a firm squeeze and set to one side whilst you do the same with the rest until you have used up all of your filling. 

Even though my cabbage was really small- it didn't even take half of it to make 12 rolls! Pretty good going, I'd say!

Of course, the rolls will open up a little whilst you work- but you don't want to worry about that... because I did't worry about it either- and mine worked out just fine!

Before you get too worked up, get yourself about 1 mugful of water boiling and add your miso paste to it... stir it in, make sure it is completely dissolved- and you have your cooking broth ready. Now... back to those rolls!

Roll up your cabbage leaves again and this time, set them down, with the thicker, stalk-end of the leaf facing downwards and squeeze them together nicely and tightly into the bottom of your saucepan. You can of course tie them up with twine or obsess over them- but if you are careful, they are not going to go anywhere!

All you need to do now is to pour in your miso broth, bring it to the boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and put on the lid. Make sure it's a nice tight fit, keep the steam trapped inside... go make yourself a drink and don't come back until at least 1 hour later. Yeah- relax, have a rest! You deserve it! The food will take care of itself from now on...

If you make your rolls this small, 1 hour of cooking will be plenty to have your cabbage soft and tender... the meat will of course be more than well cooked- and all of the juices will be combined together and trapped right there in the saucepan... spices, meat, cabbage, peppers... wonderful!

Just 2 little bites and each of these little rolls is gone... but what wonderfully delicious little bites they will be!

Sometimes, some thing can be so simple and yet so good! Give this a try and you'll see what I mean! And I hope you enjoy it too!

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