“An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage,
concludes that it will also make better soup.”
—H. L. Mencken
“The first mention (of cabbage rolls) in Japanese history dates back to 1895 when they were called “Rooru Kabetsu/Roll Cabbage” (the other way round!).
They can found in most homes, at oden restaurants and in many other establishments. They are particularly popular in winter when cabbages are everywhere in supermarkets.”
I can’t explain why I’ve been craving stuffed cabbage, but there it is. My mother never made it while we were growing up. The only time I ate it as a child was when I went to my friend Joan’s house for dinner. Her family owned the local funeral home, and they lived upstairs. Her mother made stuffed cabbage the evening I visited, and after dinner Joan invited me to go downstairs to comb the hair of their latest “guests.” I declined. But ever since then, I’ve really enjoyed stuffed cabbage in the fall and winter. There are variations of stuffed vegetables, especially stuffed cabbage, all over the world. This recipe is one I made two years ago. The umeboshi adds such a lovely flavor to the rich pork and sweet cabbage that I hope you will try this recipe.
By the way, did anyone notice the kissing turtles in the cabbage picture above?
alternate spelling: Rooru Kabetsu
- 1 pound of pork belly, thinly sliced
- ½ napa cabbage, The number of leaves equals the number of pork slices
I used regular cabbage this time: parboiled it to peel off the leaves…
- 1 pack enoki mushrooms roots trimmed off
- 5-6 umeboshi mashed to a paste 2” x 6” long piece dried kombu soaked for ½ hour, sliced into strips equal to number of slices
- 30 to 40 freshly shelled ginkgo nuts
- a peeled apple, if you use a pot that is too big: it just fills the center so the cabbage sandwiches will stand like petals
- 2 ounces of sake
Spread umeboshi paste onto thinly sliced pork. Remove the thick ribs of the napa cabbage leaves. Each leaf will then be cut in half. Make layers of cabbage, pork, enoki, kombu, cabbage. Place cabbage / pork layers edge-wise around a heavy bottomed pot. Begin on the outer circumference and work toward the center. Tuck the ginkgo nuts in among the leaves. Pour in sake. Steam for about 15 minutes at low to medium heat. Serve with black pepper and a little sesame oil.