Meat and Tofu Cabbage Rolls


Enjoy these satisfying low carb, gluten-free cabbage rolls for lunch or dinner!

If you are thinking about what dish to prepare for today or for the week, may I suggest these easy and delicious steamed cabbage rolls stuffed with meat and tofu? They may look intimidating to make but are actually quite simple and very rewarding. Additionally, these are low-carb and gluten-free, great for anyone with those diet restrictions.

I love this dish because it includes vegetables and meat all wrapped in one, mess-free roll. I packed my lunchbox with rice and cabbage rolls and had a complete meal consisting of carbohydrates, vegetables, and protein. Cabbage rolls are not very common in the states, but is common in the cuisines of Central, Northern, and Eastern Europe, East Asia, and Africa. Regular cabbage is used in Western rolls and napa cabbage is used in East Asian cuisine and in East Asian rolls.

Whenever I make dishes with ground meat, I almost always add crumbled tofu for multiple reasons. One, being, the tofu does not alter the taste or texture. Two, tofu allows you to use less meat, which is beneficial for environmental and health purposes. Three, tofu is cheaper than meat. Therefore, tofu is like a filler, but it’s a great meat filler that is beneficial in all aspects.

How to press tofu:

Tofu holds a lot of moisture. For certain dishes, the moisture is undesired as it may make your dish soggy. To get rid of the moisture, you need to press tofu for at least 30 min. You can use a tofu presser or use a homemade method that I use. I place a piece of tofu on a cutting board next to my sink, place a small cutting board on top of the tofu, and place a cast iron skillet on the cutting board. Since the cast iron skillet is heavy, it helps squeeze out excess moisture. Instead of a cast iron skillet, you may consider using a large can of vegetables, books, or anything that’s heavy.


Meat and Tofu Cabbage Rolls

Yield: 18-20 cabbage rolls

total cook time:

Ingredients:

  • 18-20 large Napa cabbage leaves, washed
  • 2 tsp. Oil

For filling:

  • 453 g. or 1 lb. Ground meat of choice
  • 396 g. or 14 oz. Firm tofu, pressed and crumbled
  • 60 g. or 1/2 c. Chopped carrots
  • 4 hydrated shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 16 g. or 1 tbsp. Oyster sauce
  • 16 g. or 1 tbsp. Soy sauce
  • 2 g. or 1 tsp. Five spice powder
  • 2 g. or 1 tsp. Minced ginger
  • 2-3 g. or 1/2 – 1 tsp. Salt (add as needed)

Directions:
1. Bring a large pan of water to a boil and add oil. Add cabbage leaves in 2 batches and cook for 3-5 minutes until the leaves soften. Set aside to cool.
2. Add filling ingredients into a bowl and mix to combine. *See above on how to press tofu. Add salt as needed to taste.
3. Lay out a cabbage leaf, and spoon in 3 tbsp. Filling and roll it up like a burrito. Repeat for the remaining rolls.
4. Add cabbage rolls to a steamer and steam on high heat for 12 minutes.
5. Serve with a dipping sauce of choice if desired (ex. Chili, suki, sweet and sour sauce)

Recipe notes:

  • When boiling the napa cabbage leaves, add oil to preserve the vibrancy of the leaves’ colors.
  • Use any type of ground meat such as turkey, beef, pork, or chicken. Feel free to choose whatever type of fat content you prefer.
  • To test the flavor and salt level of meat, I microwave a small portion to taste and season as needed.

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