Dumplings can be a complete meal — filling and flavorful. But instead of the usual dumpling wrapper made of flour, a healthier and more interesting wrap would be Napa cabbage. Filled with meats and vegetables and seasoned to perfection, it can be a filling snack or even a light meal at night. Rich in micronutrients and fiber, too. Here is my Napa Cabbage Rolls recipe with lots of vegetables–a Chinese favorite.
Cooking with Veggies
You may have noticed by now that my homecooking is played by ear. I listen to what my kids want while trying to incorporate more nutritious ingredients (i.e. vegetables and other natural alternatives) without sacrificing flavor and quality.
In our modern world with the mom and dad working to bring in two income streams, we cannot really prepare different dishes per meal. Gone were the days when there were appetizers, soup, salad, and the main course together with rice. It’s no longer efficient.
At present, I am teaching my kids to have a single dish per meal, adjusting the dish to everyone’s comfortable taste. This is more convenient for me and also good for the family budget. To complete the dish or viand, it has to have protein, which comes from chicken, pork, beef, or seafood. Then I incorporate any kind of vegetable, sometimes several kinds at a time. For thickener, I would grate potatoes instead of flour. I incorporate things like that so each dish is rich in nutrients.
It is also low in carbs, so it can be a good meal for those who are into the Keto diet or low-carb diet.
Napa Cabbage Rolls Recipe
We are used to seeing dumplings wrapped in a wrapper made of flour. This can be easily bought in the supermarket.
But do you know that you can also use Napa cabbage leaves as a dumpling wrapper? It is actually quite common as a Chinese dish and the filling is pretty much standard meat filling for regular dumplings.
Napa cabbage is also known as Chinese pechay, the ones you can easily buy at the supermarket or wet market here in the Philippines. Choose the big ones with leaves that are wide and not torn because they are easy to use. For this recipe, you will need 2 whole cabbages because you cannot really use the young leaves inside. Reserve these as well as the stems for your soups, pancit canton, or maybe some special japchae?
- 18 leaves Napa cabbage (Chinese pechay), most of the white stems cut off
- 500 grams of lean ground pork
- 1 cup shrimps, peeled and chopped (optional)
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 4 pcs. Dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- Chives or spring onion leaves, sliced thinly
- 2 thumb-sized ginger, grated
- 1 small onion, chopped (optional)
- 2-3 pcs. cabbage leaves (repolyo), chopped
- 1 small potato, grated
- Himalayan salt, to taste
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 Tbsps. cooking wine
- Black pepper
- Fish sauce, to taste
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- In a steamer, steam the Napa cabbage leaves for a few minutes, or until the leaves are wilted and easily folded. Remove from the steamer and set aside.
- Mix all the ingredients, making sure that the meat mixture is well blended. (I taste the raw meat filling and just spit it out. This ensures that the mixture has enough seasoning.)
- Put about 2 Tbsps. of the meat mixture on a leaf, making a tube shape. Roll the cabbage leaf and fold the sides toward the center. Roll towards the end and place it on a dish, folded side down. Finish wrapping the rest of the filling.
- Place all the rolls in the steamer that you used earlier. Cooking time is about 15 minutes from boiling.
My meat mixture made about 18 Napa Cabbage rolls.
To make the sauce:
Use a tong to transfer the rolls onto a serving plate. You will notice that there would be liquid left on the steaming plate. Don’t discard that because it is full of flavor.
Pour that liquid into a saucepan and add some garlic powder and 2 Tbsps. of liquid seasoning. You may also add 1 tsp. of brown sugar. Bring to a boil.
Dissolve 2-3 tsps. of cornstarch in ¼ cup water. Gradually add the cornstarch mixture while whisking. Continue adding cornstarch until you reach the desired consistency. Turn off the heat and drizzle with sesame oil.
You can serve the sauce on the side, but I poured mine over the dumplings. This keeps the cabbage leaves moist. Serve with chili-garlic sauce.