That point where Autumn begins to mellow and cool is exactly when comfort classics start to sound like the perfect idea. The time for a big bowl of flavor that’s as substantial and well-seasoned as the burnished leaves outside. Stuffed Cabbage wasn’t part of my mother’s repertoire, but I would have it at my friends house on Sukkot, aka Feast of the Tabernacles, when it is customary to eat stuffed foods. Theirs was of the sweet-sour variety, which was a good start, but left me wanting more savory depth and a nice pungent kick to knock my taste buds around a bit.
I really dig Korean food. I love how it contrasts and combines flavor; salty, sweet, spicy, garlicky, umami taste in every bite. It is satisfying, lively, and compelling in taste and texture. Kimchi is Korean fermented cabbage, it is super-healthy and pretty spicy due to Gojugaro , Korean red pepper flakes, available at Gourmet-food locations and Asian food markets. Gochuchang is a multi-flavored sauce/paste that leans heavily on gochugaru flakes for it’s spicy flavor and beautiful rusty red appearance. I call my version Gojewchang because I substitute the fish sauce in it for Worcestershire, in order not to mix meat and fish. This stuffed cabbage has a spicy kick, and is deeply savory, it’s rife with an ummmami undertone, and is completely comforting. It picks up from the sweet and sour of the classic old world Jewish dish, and takes it into new Korean-flavored territory. Serve with rice or rice noodles to soak up the lip-smacking meaty broth.
For : Gojewchang Sauce
- 1/4 cup minced garlic, about 1 head
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 cup gochugaro
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 bunch scallions, about 1/2 cup of the chopped white and light green part (save the ends for garnishing)
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 cup prepared rice (leftover Chinese takeout rice is great)
- 1 Napa cabbage ( regular ol’ cabbage works fine too)
- 1 1/2 -2 cups beef stock
- 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
Helpful tip: In order to make the cabbage more pliable fill a pot that’s large enough to hold the entire cabbage with water and a pinch or two of salt (it doesn’t have to be to the top, enough so the cabbage is comfortably submerged). Bring to boil. In the meantime: take a sharp paring-type knife and cut out the core of cabbage, and remove like a plug. Once water is at a gentle bubbling dunk the cabbage in for a few minutes (3-4). Carefully remove and drain cabbage, the outer leaves should come off easily.
1. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small bowl mix all the Gojewgaro ingredients so that it’s consistency falls somewhere between a sauce and a paste
2. In a large bowl combine the scallions, ground beef, and rice. When well incorporated- knead half of the Gojewgaro into the beef mixture.
3. Taking one cabbage leaf at a time, trim any thick stalks/ribs with a paring knife. Place a heaping spoonful of the ground beef onto the bottom of the cabbage leaf. Roll over once, and then fold the cabbage leaf on the sides toward the meat pocket. Roll up into one compact bundle. Trim for appearance sake, if necessary.
4. Place cabbage bundles seam-side down in a large baking pan. After pan is packed and filled snugly with cabbage bundles rub remaining Gojewgaro evenly over the stuffed cabbage. Mix rice wine vinegar with beef stock and pour over stuffed cabbage, cover , and place in oven. Cook for 50-60 minutes. Until cabbage is wilted and semi-translucent.
Makes approximate 20-22 stuffed cabbage bundles