Pork Japanese Cabbage Rolls

Pork Japanese Cabbage Rolls

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 60 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
409 Calories
21g Fat
26g Carbs
31g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 409
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 7g 36%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 911mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 10%
Dietary Fiber 7g 25%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 115mg 574%
Calcium 184mg 14%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 1190mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

While cabbage rolls are not considered properly Japanese cuisine, they are a very popular yoshoku-style family dish that is often made and served at home. Yoshsuko means "Western food," so it stands for all international recipes replicated with a Japanese flair. Washoku, on the other hand, stands for Japanese food. These cabbage rolls, Eastern European in origin, are a favorite yoshuko meal.

Although made famous by dishes like Polish goblaki, or German kohlrouladen, cabbage rolls stuffed with meats, rice, potatoes, or meat mixtures are found all around the world. Vietnam has a delectable version, so there's no surprise in finding a Japanese take on this filling savory meal. In the recipe, large cabbage leaves are filled with a mixture of ground pork, diced carrots, onions, and shiitake mushrooms. Once wrapped, the bundles are simmered in a light chicken stock seasoned with soy sauce. Use toothpicks or reconstituted dried daikon strips, kiriboshi daikon, to tie the cabbage bundles closed. 

Ingredients

  • 8 large leaves cabbage

For the Filling:

  • 4 whole fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms

  • 1 medium carrot

  • 1/2 medium onion

  • 3/4 pound ground pork

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 dash freshly ground black pepper

  • 8 to 16 rehydrated kiriboshi daikon strips

For the Broth:

  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/8 cup frozen corn kernels, optional

  • 1/8 cup frozen carrots, optional

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Prepare the Cabbage Leaves

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Pork Japanese Cabbage Rolls ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Wash the cabbage leaves and remove tough stems from the bottom.

    Wash the cabbage leaves and remove tough stems from the bottom

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the cabbage leaves for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Alternatively, steam the leaves on a steamer until soft and pliable. Drain well and set aside.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the cabbage leaves for several minutes

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Make the Cabbage Roll Filling

  1. If you are using dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstitute by covering them with warm water for a few minutes.

    mushrooms reconstituted in water

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Squeeze out excess water and then slice. If using fresh shiitake, finely mince.

    sliced mushrooms

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Finely mince the carrot and onion.

    Finely mince the carrot and onion

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. In a medium bowl, place the ground pork with the minced vegetables, salt, and pepper.

    In a medium bowl, place the ground pork with the minced vegetables, salt, and pepper

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Use your hands to quickly incorporate ingredients and knead the pork and vegetable mixture. Reserve.

    meat and vegetable mixture

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Assemble the Cabbage Rolls

  1. Divide the pork mixture into 8 equal portions. Place one portion of the pork mixture on each cabbage leaf.

    Place one portion of the pork mixture on each cabbage leaf

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Roll each leaf up, folding in the sides and rolling from the bottom up. Each bundle must be tightly rolled with no filling visible from the sides.

    Roll each leaf up, folding in the sides and rolling from the bottom up

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Close each roll with one or two toothpicks or one or two reconstituted daikon strips to keep them tightly shaped. If using kiriboshi daikon, slide the strip under the roll, bring the two sides of the strip up, and make one or two knots on top of the roll like you'd tie a package.

    Close each roll with one or two toothpicks or one or two reconstituted daikon strips to keep them tightly shaped

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Make the Broth

  1. Place the cabbage rolls in a large pan.

    Place the cabbage rolls in a large pan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Pour over the chicken stock and soy sauce. Add frozen vegetables, if using.

    add the chicken stock, soy sauce and frozen vegetables to the cabbage rolls

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Simmer the cabbage rolls on low heat until the pork is cooked, about 30 minutes.

    Simmer the cabbage rolls on low heat until the pork is cooked

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. To serve, place 2 cabbage rolls per person in a bowl, and spoon over some broth.

    Pork Japanese Cabbage Rolls in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

What Is Kiriboshi Daikon?

Kiriboshi daikon is simply dried daikon strips. It's usually found in Asian supermarkets and sometimes in the international aisle of big supermarkets. Look for a bag with white to light yellow strips. The thinly sliced radish is dried in the sun, which gives the daikon a distinct, concentrated umami and sweet flavor.

To reconstitute, rinse as many strips as you need and soak them in warm water for 20 minutes. Squeeze as much water out as you can by pressing the strips inside of a clean kitchen towel. The strips can be used then to tie the cabbage rolls, or in salads, stir-fries, and even cookies.

The soaking water is also delicious as a base for soups and broths.

Make Ahead and Refrigerate

This is a great dish to make ahead of time:

  • Make the rolls as instructed and place in the fridge, uncooked, for up to two days. The cold helps the filling to firm up, preventing any potential spills. The cabbage leaves protect the filling from drying out and the rest time makes the pork juicier.
  • Cook as instructed before serving.

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