Cabbage Roll Dish a Dinner of Substance

Shaw is a free-lance writer in Los Angeles.

Green cabbage, slightly sweet and very inexpensive, is one of those unassertive vegetables that assumes the character of the seasoning or filling that goes into it. For a dinner of substance, serve these cabbage rolls alongside legumes, or steamed or stir-fried tofu.


1 head green cabbage

2 cups hot water

1 package dried oyster mushrooms

1 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup light soy sauce

Juice of 2 oranges

1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger root, grated

5 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

4 green onions, sliced, white part only

3 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

3 fresh shittake mushrooms, sliced

1/3 cup water chestnuts, chopped

Boil cabbage head until ribs along leaves are pliable, but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and let rest until cool enough to handle.

Pour hot water over dried mushrooms in medium bowl and let stand until mushrooms are rehydrated, about 30 minutes.

Drain water into saucepan, setting mushrooms aside. Add barley to mushroom water, cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer 1 hour, until water is absorbed. Let stand 15 minutes before lifting lid.

Meanwhile, combine soy sauce, orange juice, ginger, garlic, green onions and sesame seeds in large non-metallic bowl. Add shiitake mushrooms and water chestnuts. Chop oyster mushrooms and add to soy sauce mixture. Stir well to coat.

Using spoon to hold back solid ingredients, drain off 1/3 cup liquid from mixture. Reserve.

Stir barley into mushroom mixture, mixing well to blend. Cut leaf from cabbage at core and lay flat on counter work space. Place generous spoonful of mushroom-barley filling on lower half of leaf and fold in at sides to partly cover. Roll leaf from bottom and place, seam-side down, in shallow baking pan. Continue until leaves or filling have run out.

Pour reserved 1/3 cup marinade evenly over top of cabbage rolls. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees 30 minutes. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

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