Cabbage just got a makeover, incorporating Asian flavors to create Thai cabbage rolls. These rolls are filled with a savory turkey mushroom filling and simmered in a flavorful red curry sauce.
Thai Cabbage Rolls
- ⅓ cup jasmine rice
- 1 head large green cabbage
- 1 ½ lb ground turkey
- 1 cup finely chopped button mushrooms
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
Red curry coconut sauce
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 stalk lemongrass smashed
- 2 lime leaves
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced ginger
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
- 2 tablespoons chili crisp or chili oil
- Rinse jasmine rice and soak in room temperature water for 30 minutes. Drain.
- Carefully remove 12 large outer leaves of the green cabbage. Reserve remaining cabbage for another use.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a few of the cabbage leaves and cook for 2 minutes or until tender but the leaves remain intact. Remove cabbage leaves and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves. Let leaves cool slightly.
- Combine jasmine rice with ground turkey, mushrooms, cilantro, egg, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, and black pepper in a large bowl. Mix until well combined.
- Assemble the cabbage rolls. Lay a cabbage leaf with the stem end at the bottom. Spoon a heaping ¼ cup of the turkey filling in the bottom third of the leaf, shaping it into a 2-3 inch log. Pull the stem over the meat and fold the left and right sides over. Roll the leaf and place the seam side down in a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining cabbage and filling.
- Prepare the sauce. Combine all of the ingredients including chicken stock, coconut milk, lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and black pepper in a large saucepot. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain sauce, discarding lemongrass, lime leaves, and ginger. Pour sauce over cabbage rolls and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Transfer dish to the oven and bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour or until tender.
- Remove the foil and garnish with chopped cilantro. Drizzle chili crisp on top and serve.
Watch how to make this:
On my most recent visit to New York, I was blown away by the restaurants. The fine dining scene far exceeds Los Angeles with the wide variety of cuisines and the overall execution of the dishes. Even the casual restaurants were beyond my expectations. One in general, Thai Diner, really shined.
Truth be told, I wasn't expecting much from a Thai restaurant. But I was quickly proven wrong with each and every dish being the best version I have ever had. There was a mixture of classic dishes and innovative ones and I thoroughly enjoyed them. One of the creative meals that I thought was truly unique was the Thai cabbage rolls. I never had an Asian version of this dish and I was immediately inspired to recreate my own version. So here is my homage to Thai diner, creating my spin on their amazing meal.
- Green cabbage: Use green cabbage or savoy cabbage for the rolls, which hold their shape best when cooked.
- Ground turkey: Although I used ground turkey for the protein, you can substitute it with ground chicken, pork, beef, or a mixture of the meats.
- Jasmine rice: The long-grain rice is a common choice in Thai dishes.
- Fish sauce: A condiment made from fermented fish, often used to add savory umami flavor to dishes. If you don't like fish sauce, you can use soy sauce instead.
- Button mushrooms: The small white mushrooms have a mild flavor that works well with the other ingredients however you can use cremini mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms instead.
- Coconut milk: Adds a creamy element to the sauce while contributing a subtle coconut flavor.
- Lemongrass: A tropical plant with a strong lemon flavor. If you can't find lemongrass, you can use ½ teaspoon of lemon zest instead.
- Lime leaves: Leaves from the kaffir lime tree, lime leaves used to impart citrusy flavor to dishes. If you can't find lime leaves, use ½ teaspoon lime zest instead.
- Red curry paste: A blend of red chilies, garlic, lemongrass, and other spices, used in Thai cuisine. I used store-bought red curry paste for this recipe but you can prepare your own as well.
- Chili crisp: A condiment containing crispy bits of garlic and onion in chili-infused oil. You can also use chili oil as well.
How to Make Thai Cabbage Rolls
Step 1: Prepare cabbage
Cabbage rolls take time and patience but the end result is always worth it. So let's get started, shall we?
To begin, rinse the jasmine rice and soak it in room temperature water for 30 minutes, then drain it. Soaking the grains helps them cook properly in the oven. I've debated on whether I should use cooked rice or raw rice but when you use cooked rice, it can become overcooked later on.
Next, carefully remove 12 large outer leaves from the head of the green cabbage, reserving the remaining cabbage for another use. Don't worry if the leaves tear a bit, it won't affect the cabbage rolls.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanch a few cabbage leaves at a time for 2 minutes, ensuring they are tender but still intact. Transfer the blanched cabbage leaves to a paper towel-lined plate and let them cool slightly.
Step 2: Make turkey filling
In a large bowl, combine the soaked rained jasmine rice with ground turkey, finely chopped button mushrooms, cilantro, a lightly beaten egg, minced garlic, finely chopped ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, and black pepper. Mix the ingredients until well combined.
I used ground turkey for the protein but you can use any other ground meat you prefer.
To test if the filling is properly seasoned, take a small portion and cook it in a saute pan. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
Step 3: Assemble rolls
Now, it's time to assemble the cabbage rolls. Lay a cabbage leaf with the stem end at the bottom. Spoon a heaping ¼ cup of the turkey filling onto the bottom third of the leaf, shaping it into a 2-3 inch log. Fold the sides over and roll the leaf, placing the seam side down in a baking dish. Repeat this process with the remaining cabbage leaves and filling.
For the red curry coconut sauce, combine chicken stock, coconut milk, smashed lemongrass, lime leaves, thinly sliced ginger, red curry paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, and black pepper in a large saucepot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
We want to infuse the coconut milk and chicken stock with the aromatics and let the flavors marry before pouring it over the cabbage rolls.
Step 4: Bake
Next, strain the sauce, removing lemongrass, lime leaves, and ginger. Pour the flavorful sauce over the assembled cabbage rolls in the baking dish, covering it with aluminum foil. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until the cabbage rolls are tender. If for some reason, the rice is not fully cooked, pop the rolls back into the oven for a bit longer.
Once done, remove the foil, garnish the cabbage rolls with chopped cilantro, and drizzle chili crisp on top before serving.
I was a bit worried about how these Thai cabbage rolls would turn out. Would they do Thai diner justice? Fortunately, they did just that. The sauce was flavorful but not overwhelming, balancing and marrying with the flavors of the turkey filling. The cabbage was tender and sweet complimenting the moist flavorful turkey. A true Thai comfort dish that is worth the effort!
Can I prepare the cabbage rolls in advance?
Absolutely! You can assemble the cabbage rolls ahead of time and refrigerate them. When ready to bake, just prepare the sauce, pour it over the rolls, and bake according to the instructions.
How do I know when the cabbage rolls are done?
The cabbage rolls are done when the cabbage is tender. You can check by inserting a fork or knife into one; it should go through easily.
What can I serve with Thai Cabbage Rolls?
The rolls are quite substantial and make for a great entree. For sides, you can serve it with a refreshing Thai cucumber salad or roasted vegetables.
For more Thai-inspired recipes check out this sweet and spice Thai noodle dish!