Daring Cooks #18: Rolled & Stuffed (Canh Bap Cai Cuon Thit)

by Jenn on October 13, 2010

in Budget,Dairy Free,Daring Kitchen,Diabetic Friendly,Gluten Free,Meats,Soups


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.

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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


Adapted from Angry Asian Creations and Shaved Ice Sundays

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.



Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite October 14, 2010 at 12:50 am

Jenn they’re absolutely gorgeous – pillows of perfection and I bet they tasted fabulous as well!!!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 7:34 am

Thanks Mardi!

chef_d October 14, 2010 at 5:15 am

Made cabbage rolls too for this challenge. I love yours and it looks so appetizing on the bowls that you used. Great job!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 7:35 am

Thanks! Oooh I will have to go check yours out!

Iris October 14, 2010 at 6:51 am

This looks really good! I would definitely recommend trying stuffed grape leaves again sometime though…they’re delicious and not normally bitter. At least not that I’ve tasted. Maybe try them again at a restaurant…

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 7:36 am

Thanks Iris! Yeah I definitely think I need to give the grapes leaves another shot, like your restaurant suggestion…

Donna October 14, 2010 at 9:08 am

These are the most el;egant looking rolls I have seen in this challenge – great job!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 9:09 am

Thank you so much!

Rosa October 14, 2010 at 9:17 am

A lovely dish! So scrumptious looking and well-presented. I love your bowl.



Jenn October 14, 2010 at 10:47 am

Thank you Rosa! I think I will have to buy more of these bowls to have a complete set… I love them!

Audax Artifex October 14, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I just love your version of cabbage rolls in a soup and the rolls look so cute tied with spring onions. Well done the recipe looks great simple and tasty. Great photograph I love the green tones. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Thanks so much Audax!

Jenni October 14, 2010 at 1:04 pm

Great job! I would have never thought about putting these in a soup! Tying them with a green onion is a fantastic idea! And how super cute are those new bowls?! Wonderful job!!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Thank you! I think that’s the way the recipe is traditionally done, as a soup, but I could be wrong…

thang @ noodlies October 14, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I love these, my mum used to make it for me all the time.. she’s now passed away and I miss her and this dish!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Sorry to hear about your mom, but yes I can totally see how these are comfort food!

Brie October 14, 2010 at 3:44 pm

stuffed cabbage leaves are the best! i like how you turned it into a soup. definitely a great delicious dish to keep you warm.

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Thank you!

Lan October 14, 2010 at 8:36 pm

one of my fave soups of all time, i make it all year round.
your version turned out beautifully.

thank you for linking back.

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 8:49 pm

Thank you! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful and inspiring dish!

Amanda L. October 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Sounds delicious! Did you try boiling the grape leaves before assembling them? That might take away some of the bitterness then just making them as is, maybe add some salt to it? I promise grape leaves are delicious!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 8:47 pm

No, I never tried making the stuffed grape leaves, I tried them already prepared…I’m keeping an open mind though, and maybe I just have to make them myself!

Kira October 14, 2010 at 10:03 pm

I love Sriracha too and often use it like ketchup. I read an article a while ago about how it’s a totally American ingredient in that it is manufactured here in the States by an immigrant family. So funny that something I always thought was so ethnic isn’t really at all!

Jenn October 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm

So interesting! well then yeah, totally untraditional use eh? ha. I do love that stuff…

Lori October 15, 2010 at 2:25 pm

You did a fabulous job. Being of Polish decent I am not a stranger to galumpkis. I grew up on them. I bet these were a delicious version. I am glad you enjoyed the challenge.

Jenn October 15, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Thank you Lori! Thanks so much for hosting this month!

CinnamonQuill/GlutenFreeFeed.com October 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

This is really pretty! It looks light, but filling. I like how you adapt the Daring Cooks to fit your ingredients and tastes; ‘But I did stuff and roll leaves’. Haha. Nice work!

Jenn October 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Thanks! ha yeah I amused myself with that sentence too :)

Marisa October 15, 2010 at 4:31 pm

The spring onion ties definitely add a pretty touch to these cabbage rolls. Great asian twist to this challenge with what looks to be a very fragrant soup.

Jenn October 15, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Thank you !

Laura @ Family Spice October 15, 2010 at 8:52 pm

The cabbage rolls look so delicate and beautiful with the onion bows on them! I’ve had cabbage rolls, but not in a soup. I must try this out!

Jenn October 15, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Thanks Laura! I hope you like them!

Valérie October 15, 2010 at 8:58 pm

I’ve never heard of Vietnamese cabbage rolls, thank you for introducing us to them! This is a lovely take on the challenge, well done! As for stuffed grape leaves being bitter, they’re not supposed to be… maybe the leaves weren’t properly rinsed?

Jenn October 15, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Yeah I’m not sure what exactly was done to the grape leaves I tried, I didn’t make them myself…

Joy October 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm

That looks wonderful.

Jenn October 15, 2010 at 11:46 pm


Lisa October 18, 2010 at 6:26 am

Jenn…proud to be a member of the ‘October Stuffed Cabbage Club’ when I get to partner with such gorgeous, delicate, and shall I say ‘almost fluffy’ looking stuffed cabbage like yours. They look like little light green clouds of heaven floating in amber! I’m in awe of your beautiful rolls (love the green onion ties) and your photos are outstanding. What I would give for just a titch of natural light – I live in a freakin’ forest! lol

Oh, BTW, your vanilla french toast is simply killing me right now..want to make it this very moment (12:30 am US Eastern time lol)

Jenn October 18, 2010 at 10:02 am

Aww thanks Lisa! I understand the issues of living in a forest, it’s super tough! And nothing wrong with a midnight snack of French toast :)

InTolerantChef October 24, 2010 at 7:15 am

I love stuffed cabbage rolls they are so good! Try soaking the vine leaves next time to reduce the bitterness.

Jenn October 24, 2010 at 9:31 am

Thanks! Well I haven’t actually made the stuffed grape leaf recipe yet (I only tasted some), but I’ll remember that when I do make the dolmas.

Elodie Jane Amora June 20, 2011 at 8:37 am

looks good! but I’m afraid I might not have the patient to carefully roll each cabbage and tied them with the green onion. good luck to me and my chubby fingers! LOL

Jenn June 20, 2011 at 7:31 pm

ha thanks! it was easier than it sounds, I promise :)

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