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4.88 from 8 votes
Cabbage Rolls - Japanese Style
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins

Japanese Style Cabbage Rolls is one of the popular dishes originating from Western cuisine. Pork and beef mince (ground meat) is stuffed in cabbage leaves and cooked in chicken stock with a few bacon pieces.

Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: cabbage rolls, japanese cabbage rolls, stuffed cabbage rolls
Serves: 4
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 4 large cabbage leaves (note 1)
  • 30g/1.1oz bacon , cut into short 1cm/⅜” wide strips
  • 250ml/0.5pt chicken stock (salt reduced) (note 2)
  • 50ml/1.7oz water
  • Salt to adjust flavour
  • 1 onion , minced
  • ½ tbsp oil
  • ½ tbsp butter
  • 200g/0.5lb pork mince
  • 200g/0.5lb beef mince
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch
  • A large pinch of ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pepper
Garnish (optional)
  • Parsley finely chopped
  1. Heat oil and butter in a frying pan over medium heat and sauté the onion for about 3 minutes until some onion pieces start browning around the edges. Turn the heat off and let it cool.

  2. Trim the thick vein from the core-end of the leaf so that the thickness of the vein becomes similar to the rest of the leaf.

  3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add the cabbage leaves to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes until the leaves become soft. (note 6)

  4. Transfer the leaves to a bowl of cold water to cool them down quickly, then pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Put the cooked onion and the rest of the Filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  6. Divide the filling into 4 equal portions and shape them into a barrel shape.

  7. Spread a cabbage leaf on a cooking bench with the core-end pointing to you (note 3) and place one of the fillings in the middle closer to the vein end (see the step-by-step photo in the post).

  8. From the core-end, roll the leaf up tightly. When the core-end reaches to the other side of the filling covering the filling completely, fold each side of the cabbage leaf over to the centre so that the width of the unrolled cabbage leaf becomes the same as the filling.

  9. Continue rolling the filling with the leaf until the end. If the side of the roll is sticking out, gently push it in to the centre and shape the roll into a fat log shape.

  10. Place the cabbage rolls, the end of roll facing down, into a deep medium size frying pan that can snuggly fit the cabbage in.

  11. Spread the bacon strips over the cabbage rolls. Pour the chicken stock as well as water over them and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  12. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook for 30-40 minutes with a lid on until the broth reduces to less than half (note 4).
  13. Transfer the cabbage rolls to serving plates and pour over the broth. Garnish with parsley if using. Serve while hot.

Recipe Notes

1. Each of my cabbage leaves was about 20cm x 20cm (8" x 8"). If you have smaller cabbage leaves, you can make small cabbage rolls but increase the number of leaves to use up the filling.

To remove a leaf without breaking, hold the whole cabbage upside down, make an incision to the thick vein near the core using the tip or the corner of a knife and detach the thick vein from the core. Then run water over the incision, trying to get the water inside of the outer leaf while pulling the core-end of the leaf off.

2. Instead of chicken stock, you can use a stock cube or powder. Use the required amount of cube/powder to make up 250ml of stock.

3. If the leaf is a bit broken, overlap the broken pieces and use it. A small slit or a hole should not be a problem as the cabbage wraps around the filling twice. If the hole is large, rip a piece off the side of the cabbage and patch it.

4. Depending on the size of the pot, temperature of the heat, the amount of reduction varies. Check the liquid quantity after 30 minutes and stop cooking if the broth is reduced sufficiently. If too much liquid is remaining, remove the lid and continue to cook.

5. Cabbage Rolls can be kept in the fridge for few days. They can also be frozen. To defrost, place the cabbage rolls in a saucepan, add a small amount of water and heat over medium heat with a lid on for 10-15 minutes until the centre of the cabbage rolls become soft and heated up.

6. A couple of readers mentioned to me different methods of softening the cabbage so I am adding them here.

Instead of boiling the cabbage leaves you can either steam them or freeze the leaves then thaw them. The latter method requires a bit of planning to allow time for the leaves to freeze and thaw.

7. Nutrition information per serving:

serving: 198g  calories: 219kcal  fat: 15g (23%)  saturated fat: 5.3g (27%)  polyunsaturated fat: 1.5g  monounsaturated fat: 6.9g  cholesterol: 82mg (27%)  sodium: 630mg (26%) potassium: 291mg (8%)  carbohydrates: 9.3g (3%)  dietary fibre: 1.3g (5%)  sugar: 3.5g  protein: 11g  vitamin a: 2.9%  vitamin c: 20%  calcium: 2.7%  iron: 6.7%