Yesterday I couldn’t stand the cravings I had all day for a Chinese egg roll–a real, honest-to-blog, greasy, salty, chewy, “carby,” restaurant-style, deep-fried, now-I-can-meet-Jesus egg roll dinner.
But alas! I’m low-carbing it right now and eating such a sinful goodie;was a complete non-option.
Nonetheless, by the time I picked up the family and pulled into the driveway last night, I knew I had to try–one way or another.
An hour later, I was sure glad I did.
I’ve never been much on the standard Italian-seasoned, soup-covered, vintage beef & rice cabbage roll. But these…these were something else entirely. Not to brag or anything, but DANG was this a great idea!
Not only was the filling in these cabbage rolls a dead ringer for regular egg roll centers, it was easy to make, low-carb, lowfat, low-cal, and even vegetarian! And cooking them uncovered at half-time meant in addition to being speedier than their traditional counterparts, the rolls’ outer “shells” kept a wonderful firmness that separated them from your average, soggy, run-of-the-mill stuffed cabbage.
Chef’s Note: It is infinitely easier and produces infinitely prettier results if you freeze a head of cabbage overnight and then fridge-thaw & core it before peeling the giant leaves off for roll wrappers. Plus, you don’t have to waste time boiling the cabbage then, either.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and warm 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a large skillet over MEDIUM heat. While stove heats up, core a thawed, previously-frozen head of cabbage and remove stem.
Slowly peel away 8 to 10 large cabbage leaves, keeping them as much intact as possible but cutting away any stiff parts that were near the stem. (You want the leaves to be kind of floppy all around.)
Take the remaining portion of cabbage left on the head and shred it with a large knife. (You’ll get about 2 or 2-1/2 cups left on a medium-sized cabbage after stripping the best leaves.) Throw shredded cabbage in a large bowl.
To shredded cabbage, add about 1/3 cup shredded carrots (♥see note!), 1 petite-diced celery rib and 4 petite-diced green onions (scallions). Toss all of the chopped vegetables together.
♥Note: While carrots are generally discouraged during the induction phase of many low-carb diets (Atkins, South Beach, etc.), the small amount (1/3 cup or about 1-2 small handfuls) I used in this recipe is fairly benign, particularly when you look at a bag of shredded carrots and notice how much empty space is actually in that bag.
Meanwhile, if you feel uncomfortable having them in there during induction phase, just leave ’em out. It’s no biggie. They just add a little bit of extra texture and some welcome color to the filling, but they’re still expendable. Throw the veggies into your warm, oiled skillet. If you’re making this vegetarian (I did), add 1 cup dehydrated texturized vegetable protein (TVP)♥ (What’s TVP, you ask?) to the skillet, along with 1 cup of water.♥Chef’s Note: If TVP isn’t available at your discount store, you can easily make this recipe using a pound of ground turkey or other (ground) meat instead; just add it to the skillet first and throw in veggies once meat begins to brown.
Sprinkle stir-fry mixture with: 2 teaspoons ginger, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 teaspoon Oriental 5-Spice Blend (or your own choice of cinnamon/nutmeg/anise/whatever), and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Shake in about 2 tablespoons soy sauce and crack 2 eggs into skillet. Break yolks immediately with spoon and continue to stir-fry until vegetables are tender but firm and TVP or meat has fully browned. (No pieces of egg should be discernible.) Remove skillet from heat.
Place 2-3 spoonfuls stir-fry mixture in the center of each cabbage leaf, stopping to roll each one before moving onto the next. To wrap, first roll leaf like a tube around the filling and then tuck each cabbage end underneath the “tube” you just made. Place rolls side by side, tucked side-down, in a greased baking dish.
Baste the tops of the uncooked wraps with a mixture of 1 tablespoon oil & 1 teaspoon soy sauce before placing UNCOVERED into hot oven.
Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until cabbage glows bright green and filling mixture can be seen through the now-translucent leaves.
Remove from oven; use tongs to distribute rolls onto plates. Allow to cool about 2 minutes before eating. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers.