Japanese Cabbage Rolls

These are cabbage rolls with the Japanese flavors of saké, soy sauce, ginger, dashi, and mirin are from the book Practical Japanese Cooking by Shizuo Tsuji. I substituted Western cabbage for the Chinese cabbage, but purchased ground chicken as in the original recipe. The texture of the filling was too smooth and solid for my taste, so I suggest adding a little mushed-up tofu to make the filling lighter. Mr. Tsuji suggests that you could use ground shrimp, pork or crab for the filling.
Stuffed Cabbage, Japanese Style
Hakusai roro-ni

adapted from Practical Japanese Cooking
by Shizuo Tsuji
page 91
serves 4 as a main course
  • 8 large cabbage leaves, or 16 small cabbage leaves
  • 4 green onions, sliced for garnish
  • (Mr. Tsuji uses julienned snow peas.)

Blanch the cabbage to soften the leaves enough to peel them away from the head.


  • 12 ounces ground chicken
  • suggestion to make lighter texture: 4 ounces tofu
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tablespoons saké
  • 2 Tablespons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tablespoons of water
  • 1 Tablespoon ginger juice

Add these ingredients to a food processor. Whir until smooth.
Place a portion the the stuffing at the base of a leaf and roll to cover it. Fold the edges in and roll to the top of the leaf. Secure with a wooden toothpick, if necessary. Continue until all the leaves are filled.

  • 5 cups dashi
  • ½ cup light soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mirin

Combine the broth ingredients in a wide heavy pot. Arrange the cabbage rolls on the bottom. Cover with a drop-lid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat so that the liquid simmers gently. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes and allow the rolls to cool in the liquid to absorb the flavors.
To Serve:
Reheat the cabbage rolls in the broth. Remove the rolls. If you used large leaves cut each into thirds and arrange in bowls cut side up. Add broth and garnish with snow peas. If you used small leaves, cut the rolls in half and arrange in bowls. Add some broth and garnish with sliced onions.
Note: I served these cabbage rolls over udon, just because I was craving some noodles.

We visited my Missouri brother over the Thanksgiving weekend—another re-union of siblings. It was a gorgeous sunny day, warm enough to sit outside and watch the subtle colors of late autumn.

4 thoughts on “Japanese Cabbage Rolls

    • Yes, the broth and the shoy, saké and ginger in the filling is what makes them nice. I think you could use tofu and beans or whole grains instead of the meat.

  1. I suspect, Tess, that the filling would be less solid if mixed by hand – I think it’s puréeing in the the processor that’s the reason it’s so dense.

  2. Ron,

    You are correct.

    I had already made the two other cabbage recipes (the dates of my posts are not accurate due to the holiday here (plus computer problems—as in dead, no boot up, bad, and $$$) so I was left with only small cabbage leaves from the large heads I bought.

    I think solid would have been fine if the rolls were larger, then sliced thinly like sausages. If you have Mr. Tsuji’s book, you can see this recipe looks much more elegant than my adaptation. With small leaves, they were like solid little meatballs in a soft vegetable wrap. (Some of the goyza I’ve made have been like this.)

    hmm…I’d guess that size matters.

    And with these U.S. holiday, perhaps I am craving something lighter, less rich, more vegetarian and brothy. This season is so full of over-indulgence that I do crave more earthy things.

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