napa cabbage rolls with chili oil sauce

by Stacy

This week has finally warmed up after some late rains and cool air. Combined with yesterday’s spring veggies in the CSA, I’m looking forward to some new sources for recipe inspiration! However, I was chilly and trying to use up some veggies languishing in the fridge, so you have to sit through a few more posts before I start busting out the squash ideas.

Don’t get disappointed with yet another cabbage recipe (it can’t be as bad as actually having this much cabbage in your house, trust me) because I am really excited about this one. I saw two food photos that really inspired me (pork and cabbage dumpling soup and wontons in chili oil sauce) and combined the ideas into my own. It’s filling but light, full of vegetables, warm and spicy and flavorful.

It does take some prep and a little time, but it’s got such nice presentation!

Start with some Napa cabbage leaves and dried shiitake mushrooms (I used 6 of each):

napa cabbage rolls

The dried shiitake mushrooms get rehydrated in warm water which will later get used to cook the dumplings. Ahh, economy. The cabbage leaves get wilted in boiling water so they can be rolled.

napa cabbage rolls

After being stuffed with minced mushrooms, garlic, ginger, and scallions, the leaves are rolled up and tied with scallion tops. Aren’t they cute? I was really happy with how they turned out.

The same pan used to boil the cabbage leaves can be emptied and reused to cook the dumplings in mushroom stock. After cooking and draining, I served the rolls in a sauce of chili oil, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and a touch of honey. In retrospect I would have added a clove of minced garlic, too.

napa cabbage rolls

Mushroom-Stuffed Napa Cabbage Rolls

Serves 2

This recipe takes a little prep and time, but isn’t as complicated as you think. Substitute agave nectar, brown sugar, or molasses to make sauce vegan.

6 Napa cabbage leaves
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 cloves minced garlic, divided
2-3 scallions
1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili oil

1.) Pour 1 cup hot water over dried mushrooms. Let stand 20-30 minutes until softened.

2.) In a wide shallow pan, bring 1.5 inches of water to a boil. Add cabbage leaves 2 at a time and boil, approximately 30-45 seconds per side, then flip over. Drain.

3.) When mushrooms are softened, squeeze excess water back into bowl and reserve soaking liquid. Mince mushrooms. Mince only white parts of scallions, reserving green tops. Slice green parts in half lengthwise. Combine mushrooms, ginger, one clove garlic, and white parts of scallions.

4.) When cabbage leaves are cool enough to handle, place a tablespoon of filling at the base of each leaf and roll up (roll end over filling once, fold sides in, continue rolling). Tie with a green piece of scallion.

5.) Empty pan used for cabbage leaves. In the same pan, bring the reserved mushroom soaking liquid to a boil. Add rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon soy sauce. If there isn’t enough liquid, add a bit more water or some stock. Add cabbage rolls and cover pan, cooking 3-4 minutes until filling is heated through.

6.) Whisk together honey, chili oil, sesame oil, one clove garlic, and last teaspoon of soy sauce. Pour into shallow bowls. When cabbage rolls are cooked, remove from pan and let drain for a few minutes. Place on top of sauce in bowls. Serve immediately, garnished with sesame seeds if desired.

napa cabbage rolls

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathie May 8, 2010 at 2:59 pm

They are so very pretty! I’m sure yummy, too.


Stacy May 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Thank you! There was something silly-yet-satisfying about tying little scallion belts around my dinner.


Amie May 10, 2010 at 12:40 pm

wow these look delicious – -I may have to make these sometime soon!

I wonder…do you think they would keep well for leftovers? We are huge on making large batches of things and eating them for days…


Stacy May 10, 2010 at 4:37 pm

After pondering for a few minutes, I would say it’s worth a shot. The assembly is the time-consuming part. I would assemble and tie the rolls, then refrigerate them tightly wrapped or in a ziploc bag. When you’re ready to serve them, boil them for an extra minute or two to make sure they are heated through. According to a quick search cabbage can be frozen, but it was recommended for cabbage that will be going in soups, so I don’t think I would advise it here. Let me know how it works for you!


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