Since I made a large batch of Asian plum sauce I wanted to make something to serve along with it. I love egg rolls, but the wrappers aren’t exactly part of my standard diet. I decided to use Napa cabbage leaves in exchange for traditional egg roll wrappers. It worked better than I anticipated. You can’t hold them to dip in the sauce, but drizzling the sauce over the rolls and using a fork to eat them works.
I made two batches of the filling, one using ground pork and one with ground beef. Both taste great. The secret is marinating the ground meat for at least an hour before cooking to let the flavors meld. Draining and cooling the filling is also key to getting firm rolls that don’t fall apart during cooking. I used a fine mesh colander and stirred the filling often to cool it faster and remove the excess liquid. I cut the large Napa cabbage leaves to 6-7 inches long and used a rolling pin to smash the heavy veins to make them more pliable and to remove more excess liquid. I suggest putting paper towels or a kitchen towel under the Napa cabbage leaves before using a rolling pin on them.
1 lb ground pork
12-14 Napa cabbage leaves
4 cups Napa cabbage, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
6 green onions, bulbs & leaves diced
1/4 cilantro leaves, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs fish sauce
1 Tbs lemon zest
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (about 1 inch)
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
In a large bowl, break up the ground pork into small pieces. Add garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, lemon zest, ginger, chili-garlic sauce, salt, and black pepper to the bowl with the meat. Stir until the meat is evenly coated with sauces and seasonings. Cover and return to the refrigerator for at least one hour. Sauté the meat and marinade in a large sauté pan or work until partially cooked. Add shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, green onion, and cilantro. Cook until carrots and cabbage are cooked. Spoon filling into a colander to drain and cool, stirring frequently. Preheat oven to 400°F and prepare a 15″x10″ (3.4qt) baking pan with coconut oil once filling is cool. Trim the bottoms off the Napa cabbage leaves leaving the leaf 6-7 inches long. Smash the heavy veins of the leaves with a rolling pin. Fill the center of each cabbage leaf with approximately a 1/4 cup of filling in an even row across the leaf, leaving about an inch on each side and several inches at the top and bottom. Tuck the sides of the cabbage leaf over the filling and roll tightly from the top of the leaf over the filling to the bottom of the leaf. Arrange in the baking pan with the bottom on the leaf resting on the bottom of the pan. Continue until the pan is filled or you run out of filling. Lightly brush or spray coconut oil on the cabbage rolls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the cabbage is cooked and lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving so the rolls don’t fall immediately apart. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers.