Staffed Cabbage Rolls

 

This recipe is very special. It takes work. But trust me, your efforts and time will be worth invested. I bet this one can become your favorite dish!

 

2 cups short or medium grain brown rice

4 cups water

2 medium size lightweight heads of cabbage

3 cups king oyster mushrooms, diced

1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 cup olive oil

1 onion, sliced in half moons

1 heaping tbsp red brown rice miso dissolved in ¼ cup water

1 umeboshi plum

1 tsp pickled shiso leaves from the ume plum jar

 

Wash brown rice and soak in 4 cups of water for 5-8 hours.

Bring to a boil a large saucepan of water.

 

Preparing cabbage for staffing:

Very carefully pull cabbage leaves off of the cabbage head, as many as you can without breaking. Blanch cabbage leaves in boiling water, 3-4 leaves at a time for 2-3 minutes. Carefully remove leaves from the boiling water with a mesh strainer onto a plate to cool down. Do not overcook leaves as they might tear apart when staffing them later. With a knife remove hard spines from each leaf. The large size leaves can be cut in half. Reserve cabbage spines.

 

Making staffing:

Discard soaking water from the rice. Mix the rice with cilantro, mushrooms, salt, and pepper.

 

Rolling cabbage:

If you are right handed, place a leaf in your left palm. Place a tablespoon of the stuffing on the leaf closer to the base of your palm, away from the finger. Lay your right hand’s  thumb under the side of the cabbage leaf that holds the staffing  pressing tightly on the rice staffing with the other fingers, flip the cabbage over the rice without leaving any empty space inside and continue to roll until you reach the other end of the cabbage leaf. If the rice falls out from the sides, neatly tack it in. Roll all of the cabbage leaves in this manner placing them on a plate or a chopping board.

 

Cooking cabbage rolls:

In a 5.5” heavy cast iron pot, sauté onions until browned for 5-7 minutes. Add cabbage spines, miso, ume plum, and shiso leaves and continue sautéing for another 5-7 minutes.

Carefully transfer cabbage rolls into the pot one by one, laying them tightly back to back without leaving any empty space. Place a porcelain plate face down on top of the cabbage rolls. The plate should not touch the walls of the pot. Add water enough to cover the cabbage rolls. Close the lid and bring to a gentle boil over medium flame. When boils, lower the flame and cook for 3-4 hours. Check the water level from time to time. If seems drying out on top, add some boiling water just to the level of the cabbage. That may need to be done only once.

To serve, carefully not to break remove each cabbage roll with a metal spoon and place on a serving platter.

 

Variations:

-          Use any other mushrooms of your choice in place of king oyster ones

-          Add cooked chickpeas to the pot on top of the sautéed base and under the cabbage rolls

-          Place chunks of the butternut squash on top of the plate and allow to steam while cooking the dish