Wow can you believe Daring Cooks is on to their 18th challenge already?? It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were all attempting ricotta gnocchi for the first time… Well here we are, one and a half years in. So far I’ve had a lot of fun with this group. Some challenges have been better than others, but you’ll have that with just about any blogging group. My favorite challenges so far up to this point have been the paella and sushi challenges.
This one though, might have to win the spot of #3 on my list! Even though I went in a totally different direction from the main challenge (because when do I not?), both my husband and I loved this recipe. So are you curious what the challenge was?? Sure you are!
Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves. Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.
If you can’t tell from the photo above, I didn’t stuff grape leaves. In fact, neither grape leaves nor Middle Eastern cuisine were anywhere related to what I chose to do. But I did stuff and roll leaves. Instead I made Vietnamese cabbage roll soup, also known as Canh Bap Cai Cuon Thit.
Honestly, before this challenge I had never eaten stuffed grape leaves before. I was able to find some in a store and tried them, and my husband and I instantly decided that we were not fans; they were just way too bitter for our taste, and I wasn’t sure how me making them from scratch would be able to solve that bitterness problem. Maybe I will try them again sometime, but they just were not meant to be for this challenge.
Luckily, there was some nice fine print about being able to stuff cabbage leaves instead. I had made a stuffed cabbage dish before, galumpkis – which I really enjoyed. Actually, this Vietnamese soup used very much the same steps for assembling the rolls (turns out there are only so many ways to peel, stuff and roll cabbage leaves), so I will be borrowing a few pics from that old post
For the recipe, I adapted from two different ones I saw online – one was a soup, one was not. I liked the idea of turning this into a soup after a recent cold spell that brought temps down to 4 ºC in the mornings, but the non-soup recipe was a lot simpler ingredient-wise. So, I blended. I also used beef instead of pork (it was on sale). You know me, I make substitutions with everything!
This soup was light and mild, but quite satisfying. Not very filling, so it would be really appropriate as an appetizer. A little sriracha added some zing, though I’m sure that’s not traditional at all…but then I use sriracha like most people use ketchup, I can put it on just about anything. I loved how cute the rolls looked, and bought some pretty bowls in our favorite new Asian foods store just for them! Tying the green onions around them definitely added a nice artistic garnish. And the soup broth – so simple in flavors, but just enough to be comforting on a chilly day. I love days when you can see your breath and drink hot tea…I always was a cold-weather girl and the coming of Fall is invigorating!
So if you’re looking for a warm comforting soup on a brisk windy day when the leaves are falling before they had a chance to turn, I recommend this. It may not be the dolmades I was supposed to make for this challenge, but I don’t think I want to switch, I liked this soup too much.
Also submitted to – Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
salt & pepper
1 large head cabbage (not the frisée kind), cored
1 bunch green onions, bulbs removed
6 c. beef broth (double check labels to make sure your stock is GF if you need to)
1. Purée the chopped onions until really fine, and then in a medium bowl mix together with the ground beef. Add salt and pepper, about a tsp each or so.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer. Peel off the cabbage leaves, shave off the stems with a knife (or remove completely depending on how big they are), and blanch them for about 30s or until soft. It may be easier for you to blanch the entire head and peel off the leaves as it blanches (with utensils of course, not your hands!). I personally find no difference, so whatever works best. Also blanch the green onions.
3. On each leaf, place about 2 tbs. of the meat filling and roll “burrito-style” (see my pics below, how I made galumpkis):
4. Ok that’s probably not the authentic way to do this, but it works. Once you’ve made your rolls, tie each one carefully with the blanched green onion. I made about a total of 10 small rolls using about half the meat because my head of cabbage was ridiculously small, and then used the rest of the meat to make meatballs.
5. Line a large pot with some of the leftover cabbage leaves, and tightly pack the rolls in the pot. If there’s any space left stuff with extra cabbage to help hold everything in place.
6. Use the broth to cover your rolls about 1-2″. If they are starting to float, find a heat-resistant plate to help weight them down (or a smaller pot lid that fits inside your large pot).
7. Bring the pot to a simmer, and let simmer covered for about 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked. Serve cabbage rolls with broth. Just to make things even less authentic, I like to eat mine with a bit of sriracha to dip into.