Thursday, May 23, 2013

Twisted Cabbage Rolls

My husband absolutely loves Chinese (or Asian) food.  Loves it.  We even have a family tradition of having Chinese food for New Year's Day.  His favorites are crab Rangoon and any kind of stir fry.  My favorites are lettuce wraps and hot and sour soup.  The kids, especially my son, love it too.

So I wanted to make cabbage rolls, but I didn't want to do the same thing everyone else does.  I know traditional cabbage rolls are filled with ground beef and rice and have a tomato sauce on top.  So I thought about the components of an egg roll, and it took off from there.  A traditional egg roll has cabbage, carrots, green onion, ground meat, and soy sauce, to name a few.  So I thought, how can I deconstruct an egg roll and turn it into a cabbage roll?  Lose the wrapper and use the cabbage as the wrapper.  Genius!

And, for the sauce, I went with an Asian-style barbecue sauce instead of a tomato sauce.  And it was so good.  I made it a little too spicy for the kids, but it was a huge hit with my husband.  I also used ground turkey, so it's a lot healthier than an egg roll or traditional cabbage rolls.  Some of the ingredients may be foreign to you, but they are optional and can be left out.  But, if you're game, try them.  They give such a great depth of flavor. And the amounts of soy sauce and hot mustard and chili flakes is based upon your taste and spice tolerance.

So get your wok out and Yan Can Cook!  Remember that show?

1 head of green cabbage
1 lb ground turkey (or beef or chicken)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 T soy sauce (to taste)
2 green onions, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 T oyster sauce (optional)
A few drops sesame oil (optional)
2-4 T Chinese hot mustard (optional)
1/4 C cilantro, chopped
Olive oil

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/4 to 1/2 C brown sugar (to taste)
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
A few drops sesame oil (optional)
2-4 T soy sauce (to taste)
A few drops fish sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 T garlic powder
Red chili flake, to taste (depends on how spicy you want it)

Peel the leaves from the head of cabbage and boil until mostly tender. You will have some small center leaves left over, so you can save those uncooked for another use.  You will get about 8-10 rolls, depending on the amount of filling you use.

Preheat a large skillet to medium high heat and drizzle in some olive oil and a few drops of sesame oil.  Cook the carrots and green onion for a couple of minutes.  Add in the ground turkey and cook until browned and done.  Add in the remaining roll ingredients except the cabbage and cook until the liquid is almost cooked out.

For the sauce, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a sauce pot and cook and simmer until thickened and reduced, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spoon some filling down the center of a leaf of cabbage and wrap and tuck the cabbage around the filling.  Place the rolls in a casserole pan seam side down.  Cover the rolls with the sauce and bake, covered with foil, for 15-20 minutes or until the cabbage is completely tender.


  1. Just discovered your blog and made this recipe tonight. I had to stop by and tell you how delicious they were! I am adding them to my regular rotation and will be trying some more of your wonderful looking recipes. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You're so welcome! I'm glad to hear you liked these. You are the first person to give me feedback. And thank you for the compliments!