Stuffed cabbage rolls are believed to have originated in the ancient Middle East where it spread to Eastern Europe as trade routes flourished and various ethnic groups migrated. Many countries lay claim to its origins, which accounts for the several interesting riffs on the traditional recipe.
German cabbage rolls called kohlrouladen is the quintessential German comfort food that’s a complete and hearty dinner on its own, but it also goes well with boiled mashed potatoes or spaetzle.
Jewish cabbage rolls (called holishkls, a concoction of ground beef, rice and raisins enveloped in cabbage leaves and simmered in a sauce of brown sugar, lemon and tomatoes) have been traced back 2,000 years to Eastern Europe.
Romanian sarmale combines ground pork, caramelized onions and rice nestled in a pickled sauerkraut leaf, and then smothered in dill and tomato sauce. It is often topped with bacon or smoked sausage.
Poland’s golabki, translating to ‘little pigeon feet’ (named after the French dish that wrapped cabbage around cooked pigeon), stuffs the leaves with pork, beef, rice or barley, accompanied by sour cream and sweet paprika.
Ukrainian holubtsi are typically vegetarian, filling pickled cabbage leaves with either buckwheat and wild mushrooms or a mixture of whole grains and root vegetables, braised in tomato juice or vegetable stock served with perogies.
Egyptian mahshi kromb are simmered in an aromatic tomato-based sauce with mint, cumin and other Middle Eastern herbs and spices.
The Asian variation wraps Chinese cabbage around seafood blends, tofu and shiitake mushrooms.
On a blog some years ago, I made a whole stuffed cabbage but used a ground turkey filling. Today, I wanted to try doing it with a salmon filling. I think this should be real tasty!
Salmon -Stuffed Cabbage w/ Tomato Sauce
In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onions, mushrooms & garlics for 5 minutes in oil. Add rice & broth; bring to a boil. Cover & cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat or until rice is tender & all liquid has been absorbed. Add salmon cubes. Cook uncovered for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until salmon begins to flake. Season with salt & pepper; set aside.
In another large saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch cabbage leaves for 5 minutes or until tender. Cool in an ice bath & drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Lay cabbage leaves flat & using a paring knife, trim the thickest section of the stem at the base of each leaf.
Line a bowl with a 9-inch opening with 7 cabbage leaves, starting with the greenest leaves. Cover with 1/3 of the salmon mixture. Layer with 4 cabbage leaves. Cover with remaining salmon mixture & remaining 4 cabbage leaves. Press stuffed cabbage into the bowl to create a rounded shape.
In a small bowl, combine the broth & tomato paste. Set aside.
Gently turn stuffed cabbage out into a large skillet. Reshape, if needed. Pour broth mixture into skillet & place tomatoes around cabbage. Season with salt & pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover & simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked & cabbage is tender but still bright green.
Gently cut stuffed cabbage into wedges & serve with tomatoes & sauce.