Cabbage leaves stuffed with pork, mushrooms, vegetables and herbs, Thai cabbage rolls can be prepared and served in two ways. The filling can be raw or cooked. If using pre-cooked filling, just wrap and dip in spicy sauce. If using raw filling, you may steam the cabbage rolls or cook them in broth.
This recipe begins with raw filling. The entire procedure for making the cabbage rolls is fully illustrated including how to prep the cabbage leaves to soften them and to make them pliable to wrap the ground meat mixture in.
Now, you will see kaffir lime juice in the ingredients list. Does it have to be kaffir lime juice? Won’t regular lime juice work? Sure, it will. The only reason I used kaffir lime juice is because the day I cooked these cabbage rolls, we had plenty of kaffir limes in the garden. It rained the previous night and I was literally picking fruits from the ground underneath the tree. But, yes, juice squeezed from regular limes will do the trick just as wonderfully. Even lemon juice will work although the flavor and aroma will not be the same.
Thai Cabbage Rolls
- juice from one to two limes (I used kaffir limes)
- cilantro to garnish
- lime wedges to garnish
Make the filling
- In a bowl, mix together the ground pork, shrimps, chopped carrot, scallions and shiitake mushrooms with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Prepare the cabbage and scallions
- Place the cabbage on a cutting board.
- Using a small pointed knife, cut around the core in the shape of a cone. Keep going until the core is loose. Pull it out and discard.
- Drop the cabbage into the boiling water, cored side down, and let the water come to a rolling boil once more.
- Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook the cabbage for about 10 minutes.
- Scoop out the cabbage and dump in a bowl of iced water. When cool, place in a strainer, cored side up, and allow to drip for a few minutes.
- Carefully loosen the cabbage leaves to separate.
- Take one cabbage leaf and, using a sharp knife, shave off the thick portion that runs vertically in the middle of the leaf. Be careful not to shave too deep to avoid tearing the cabbage. Do this with all the cabbage leaves.
- The too small ones near the core, you may chop finely and mix into the filling. But that’s entirely optional.
- Plunge the whole scallions in boiling water for a minute then hang on the edge of the strainer where you’re draining the cabbage.
Assemble the cabbage rolls
- Lay a trimmed cabbage leaf on your work surface. Position it so that the thicker side is pointing towards you.
- Place a heaping tablespoon of filling near the center.
- Fold the thick side of the cabbage leaf over the filling. Then, fold in the left and right sides. Roll the cabbage leaf away from you to seal in the filling.
- Take one piece of softened scallion and use it to tie the cabbage roll like a parcel.
- Repeat until all the cabbage leaves have been filled and tied.
Cook the cabbage rolls
- Pour the bone broth into a pot. Add the lemongrass, garlic, galangal and chilies. Bring to the boil. Taste. Add fish sauce, as needed.
- Drop the cabbage rolls one by one into the hot broth.
- When the broth begins to simmer, set the heat to low, cover the pan and cook the cabbage rolls in the bone broth for 20 to 30 minutes.
Serve the cabbage rolls
- Scoop out the cabbage rolls and place in soup bowls.
- Strain the broth. Stir in the lime juice. Taste and add more fish sauce, if needed.
- Pour hot broth over the cabbage rolls.
- Garnish the Thai cabbage rolls soup with torn cilantro and lime wedges before serving.