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Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage (Hakata-style Simmered Cabbage)
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
55 mins

Layered Chicken and Chinese Cabbage is a visually attractive dish. Chinese cabbage, chicken mince (ground chicken) and aburaage are layered alternatively to make a stripy pattern, then simmered in flavoured broth.

Recipe Type: Appetiser, Sides
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: Chicken Mince, Chinese cabbage, Ground Chicken, Nappa cabbage
Serves: 4
Author: Yumiko
Ingredients (tbsp=15ml, cup=250ml)
  • 5 large Chinese cabbage leaves (note 1)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 aburaage (thin deep-fried tofu)
  • 5 x 40cm/1ft4" butcher's twine
  • 30g/1.1oz carrot , thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp corn flour/corn starch mixed in 1½ tbsp water
  • A pinch of salt (note 2)
  • ½ tsp ginger juice (optional)
Chicken Mixture:
  • 200g/0.4lb chicken mince (note 3)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • 1 tbsp cornflour/corn starch
  • 850ml/1.8pt dashi stock , hot (note 4)
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  1. Boil Chinese leaves in a pot with 2 teaspoons of salt until the thick stems soften (about 5 minutes). When cooked, drain water and cool them down.

  2. Soak aburaage in boiled water (you can use the boiling water in step 1) for 5 seconds to remove excess oil. Take them out of the hot water and squeeze out excess water. Leave them to cool down.

  3. Add the Chicken Mixture ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Divide the chicken mixture into 4 equal portions.

  4. Trim the root end of Chinese cabbage leaves to make it straight, then cut the white part of each leaf to the length of the aburaage (lengthwise). Fold the tip of the other portion of the cabbage leaf to make it the same length as the white part.

Layering (see the photos in Layering section of the post)
  1. Place two pieces of one leaf on a cutting board overlapping each other to make the same rectangular shape as the aburaage.

  2. Spread ¼ of the chicken mixture thinly and evenly over the cabbage, then place a piece of aburaage on top of it.

  3. Repeat steps 5 and 6 four times to make layers, placing the cabbage sheet on top of the aburaage (note 5). The layer will end with an aburaage at the top.

  4. Make the last Chinese cabbage leaf the size of an aburaage in the same way and place it at the top (note 5). Tie the layered block with butcher's twine in 5 places to secure.

Cooking and Serving
  1. Place the sliced carrots in a pot which is deeper than the height of the layered block, carefully place the block on the carrots.
  2. Add the Broth ingredients to the pot and turn the heat on to medium. Place a drop lid (note 6), then a lid on and cook for 25 minutes. If liquid evaporates too fast, add some water.

  3. Take out the block from the pot, remove the strings and cut it into 4 equal pieces (note 7). Place each piece on a plate or in a shallow bowl showing the cut side up.

  4. Transfer the broth to a small pot. You should have about 150ml/5.1oz of broth left in the pot. If not enough, add water. If too much, condense.

  5. Add corn flour with water to the sauce to make it thicker. Pour the sauce over the blocks with a couple of drops of ginger juice if using.

Recipe Notes

1. Each Chinese cabbage leaf does not have to be as wide as that of an aburaage but the length needs to be at least twice as long as the long side of the aburaage.

If some of the leaves are cut to half vertically (this happens when you buy a Chinese cabbage cut in half), use two leaves to make up for a full leaf.

2. Instead of salt, you can add 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce.

3. It can be either thigh mince or breast mince.

4. Alternatively, you can use 3 cups of hot water with 2 teaspoons of dashi powder.

5. When placing a Chinese cabbage leaf on, change the direction of the leaf alternatively so that the height of the terrine will become even on both ends. If you place the leaves in the same direction, i.e. white parts of all the leaves on one side, you will end up with this side too high and the leaf side too low.

6. A drop lid is called 'otoshibuta' (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a saucepan. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless-steel lid. It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, and the ingredients cook faster, and stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.

If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with baking paper or aluminium foil. Cut a square in foil, fold the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.

7. If serving as appetiser, cut it into 8 pieces (with extra one horizontal cut).

8. You can make this the day before serving.  Store the sauce separately and pour it at the time of serving. Microwave to reheat.

9. Nutrition per serving. Carrot slices are not to be eaten but included in the nutrition calculation as some nutrients come out into the broth. Accordingly, calories, weight etc are marginally overstated.

serving: 404g calories: 229kcal fat: 12g (18%) saturated fat: 2.5g (13%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 4.4g monounsaturated fat: 3.6g cholesterol: 45mg (15%) sodium: 1943mg (81%) potassium: 867mg (25%) carbohydrates: 9.8g (3%) dietary fibre: 2.5g (10%) sugar: 3.2g protein: 20g vitamin a: 104% vitamin c: 67% calcium: 16% iron: 15%