Asian Cabbage Rolls
These steamer-free Asian Cabbage Rolls have a savoury, plant-based filling, wrapped around sweet napa cabbage, with a umami, soy sauce glaze.
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What are Asian Cabbage Rolls?
Asian Cabbage Rolls have a savoury, plant-based filling of tofu, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, with a vibrant green napa cabbage leaf wrapped around it. There is no steamer needed to make these high-protein cabbage rolls!
These Asian Cabbage Rolls are the latest trend on social media, and is perfectly vegan and a healthy dish for all to enjoy. They are not only juicy, plump, and packed with nutrition, but they are fun to make and look beautiful on the dinner table.
Paired with a quick soy sauce glaze, and these Chinese-style cabbage rolls are jam-packed with umami and savouriness. If you’re looking for more way to eat your veggies, try out my Korean Vegetable Pancake recipe.
Please watch my video, as I walk you through how to make them, and hopefully entertain you with my witty sense of humour.
Now let’s rock and cabbage roll!
European cabbage rolls vs Asian cabbage rolls:
Traditional European cabbage rolls are typically filled with cooked, minced meat and rice, with green cabbage wrapped around it. They are then baked in dish, braising in a savoury tomato sauce.
Traditional Asian cabbage rolls are made with raw, minced meat (similar to a dumpling filling), with napa cabbage wrapped around it. They are then steamed and accompanied with a glaze, drizzled on top.
The Asian Cabbage Rolls I am sharing with you today take a modern approach, with a plant-based filling of tofu, and do not require a steamer to make.
What type of cabbage should I use for Asian cabbage rolls?
For these Asian Cabbage Rolls, you need to use napa cabbage.
Try to find greener Napa cabbage if you want your rolls to turn out a vibrant green. I had to dig through a mountain of yellow ones to find a somewhat green one.
You can also use savoy cabbage. Both napa and savoy cabbage are great for these asian cabbage rolls because they’re soft and tender.
I don’t recommend using green, coleslaw-style, cabbage because it’s much tougher to bite through and takes a while to cook till tender.
What do Asian Cabbage Rolls taste like?
When you first take a bite you get a mouthful of the juicy and sweet napa cabbage, with the umami-packed soy sauce glaze.
Then you chew a little, and you can taste the sweetness of the carrots, the earthiness of the shiitake mushrooms, and the soft and chewy texture from the tofu and rice.
Ingredients for Asian Cabbage Rolls
Napa cabbage is sweet, tender, and juicy – the perfect vessel to hold the fillings in.
You can also use savoy cabbage.
Firm tofu gives the best texture for this vegan filling as it is not too soft, and not too hard.
Short/medium grain rice is stickier than other rice, and is best used to bind the ingredients together. You can also use jasmine rice or brown rice, but your filling will be more loose.
If you are on a low-carb, keto diet, then you can skip this ingredient.
I like to use carrots, shiitake mushrooms, and green onions as the vegetables in the filling. Each of these veggies have a unique flavour and texture to bring.
How to make Asian Cabbage Rolls
Blanch cabbage leaves
Pluck 20 napa cabbage leaves measuring around 9 by 5 inches. Wash and place them into boiling for 20 seconds.
Immediately transfer the cooked leaves into ice-cold water to prevent further cooking. The ice bath helps retain the tender texture and keeps them vibrant green.
Remove from ice bath and pat them dry with a towel.
Sauté ingredients until fully cooked
To a wok on medium heat, drizzle in olive oil, and sauté the garlic and green onions.
After 30 seconds, toss in the carrots and mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.
Crumble tofu into the wok, using a wood spoon to crumble into smaller tofu bits. Stir fry the tofu for a minute before stirring in the cornstarch slurry for 10 seconds until it’s fully incorporated.
Fold the rice in for 30 seconds. Make sure not to over mix or else the rice will turn mushy. Remove from heat and add in the sesame oil.
Tightly wrap filling with cabbage leaf
Place a cabbage leaf on a dry surface, and chop 2 inches off of the hard-stem.
Place 2 tbsps of filling, 2 inches above the base of the cabbage. You may mould the filling into a more compact shape with wet hands (make sure the filling has cooled down a little).
Roll the bottom portion of the cabbage up and over the filling, and keep on rolling. It should take 1 to 2 revolutions depending on how large your leaf is.
Once you reach the green leafy part of the cabbage, grab the right side of the leaf and bring it to the left, and the left leaf to the right. Roll it up once more and BAM you have a gorgeous cabbage roll.
Make soy sauce glaze and serve
To a saucepan with the heat OFF, whisk in mushroom water (or regular water), soy sauce, white granulated sugar, garlic powder, and cornstarch.
Once the cornstarch is dissolved, turn the heat ON to medium-high, and whisk constantly for 10 minutes until it reaches a thick, lip gloss consistency. You can optionally mix in roasted sesame seeds once thickened.
Pour the warm soy sauce glaze on top of the cabbage rolls, and serve immediately.
There we have it, Asian Cabbage Rolls. And while the rolls are still warm, let’s dig in.
Asian Cabbage Rolls
- 20 leaves napa cabbage
Cabbage roll filling
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium carrot diced
- 4 pieces dried shiitake mushroom 60 g, re-hydrated, diced
- 2 stalks green onion sliced
- 1 pack firm tofu 454 g
- 1 cup short/medium grain rice cooked
- 1 tsp roasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp mushroom water
- 1 tbsp soy
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
Soy sauce glaze
- 1 cup mushroom water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tsp white granulated sugar
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds optional
Prepare the cabbage leaves
- Boil the cabbage leaves in water for 20 seconds. Transfer cooked leaves to ice bath. Remove from ice bath and pat dry.
Cook the filling
- To a wok on medium heat, drizzle in some oil, and sauté the garlic and green onion for 30 seconds.
- Add in carrots and mushrooms and sauté for 2 minute.
- Crumble tofu into wok and sauté for 1 minute.
- Pour in cornstarch slurry and mix with other ingredients for 10 seconds.
- Add rice into wok and stir fry for 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat and mix in sesame oil.
Wrap the cabbage rolls
- Chop 2 inches from bottom of cabbage leaf stem. Place 2 tbsp of filling 2 inches above the base of leaf (Note 1).
- Roll the bottom portion of the cabbage up and over the filling, and continue to roll 1 to 2 revolutions, until you reach the green leafy part of cabbage.
- Bring the right side of the leaf to the left, and the left leaf to the right. Roll it up once more and you have your cabbage roll (Note 2).
Make soy sauce glaze and serve
- Add the ingredients to a saucepan with the heat OFF. Whisk until cornstarch is dissolved.
- Turn the heat ON to medium-high, whisking constantly for 10 mins until thickened. Mix in roasted sesame seeds.
- Drizzle sauce on top of the cabbage rolls and serve immediately.
- You may mould the filling into a compact shape with wet hands.
- You may sear them on a hot pan for a couple of seconds. But, in my opinion, it ruins the green colour of the cabbage.