ASIAN CABBAGE ROLLS

1.16.2016

Why isn't cabbage considered sexy? I mean, look at it. I may not feel sexy after eating it, but it's a sexy food. Then again, I think all vegetables are pretty sexy.

Interesting thing, in the last several months (looooong before the holidays) I started to eat fewer veggies and fruits and stopped drinking as much water. It's strange because I'm definitely more of an herbivore than a carnivore, but I started to get really stressed out and anxious and my diet took a deep dive.

At first, it didn't make a difference and I thought somehow it never would, then one day I looked in the mirror and thought, omg I look like SHIT. Not sexy.








One day post Christmas, G told me about an old Radiolab episode on guts that struck a chord with him and he told me to check it out. While it touched on things that I already knew and believed in, I was so out of touch with my body that listening to it snapped me out of my rut. I come from a household and culture where diet is at the root of everything and somehow I lost sight of that.

While it seems like common sense that what we put in our mouths directly affects everything our bodies do, so many of us eat and drink without really thinking about the long-term effects. Instant gratification wins almost every time.

So I have been thinking a lot lately about focus and presence. Not just in a New Year's resolution way, but implementing permanent change. And not just in regards to diet, but also conversations I have with my husband, daughter, family and friends. Experiences, whether they are enjoyable (picnics, walks on the beach) or painful (Pilates). Patience lends itself to focus and presence and patience has never been my strong suit so there's that, too. When I am focused, present and patient, I become much more aware and conscious of what I say, do and eat.

It's not a quick and easy change by any means. I totally downed a giant bag of Sour Patch Kids last night, but I've definitely had more veggies including these insanely delicious and satisfying Asian Cabbage Rolls, less sugar and wine, more exercise and fresh air, more infused water and a few minutes each day to meditate. I'll report back on my increased sexiness soon.

Meanwhile, try these Cabbage Rolls. I promise, you'll love them. I sort of enter a state of meditation when I'm rolling these, which counts as daily practice in my book. Oh, and don't eat these with a side of kimchi and brussels sprouts as I did (we called this the Cabbage Trio). Most definitely NOT SEXY.

ASIAN CABBAGE ROLLS
adapted from the ktchn
serves 4-5

2 heads Savoy cabbage (Napa makes sense, too)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 lb ground turkey (or mix of shrimp, turkey, sausage, etc.)
1/2 cup cooked rice (any kind you like. You can also use any other grain you have laying around)*
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs soy sauce
1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, finely chopped


FOR THE SAUCE:
1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari (regular tamari or soy sauce will make the dish saltier, obviously, so you can use either just reduce to 2 Tbs or so and adjust according to your taste)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sake
2 Tbs mirin
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
chile flakes (optional)
sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. 
Fill a medium pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, remove roughly 15-20 outer leaves of the cabbage and rinse thoroughly. 
Once the water comes to a boil, blanch the leaves for 10-15 seconds and set aside on a plate. This is to make rolling easier. You can also remove the bottom, thick part of the rib, but I didn't and it was fine.
Core one of the remaining cabbages and 
finely chop (reserve the other for another use like slaw). 
Add the chopped cabbage to a large bowl and mix with the remaining ingredients.
Place 2-3 Tbs of the mixture into each leaf of cabbage and roll like mini burritos.
Place them seam side down into a 9x13" baking pan. Alternatively, you can separate the rolls into two 8x8" square pans, reserving one for a later date.**
Whisk the sauce ingredients and and pour over the cabbage rolls. Top with chile flakes and/or sesame seeds, if you are using them. 
Cover the pan tightly in foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. 
Remove the foil and bake an additional 20 minutes or until the tops are nicely browned.
Serve hot with sriracha or your favorite hot sauce on the side. 

* You don't have to add rice or a grain, but it does help the mixture stay together better. I've made it without rice and it works fine. 
** I've never frozen these because frozen cabbage doesn't really work, but I have stashed them in the fridge, tightly covered in foil, and popped them in the oven a few days later and they turn out beautifully. 

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