Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls

4.64 from 100 votes
1 hour 20 minutes
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Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls are a spicy, Asian-inspired twist on traditional cabbage rolls!  Use turkey, chicken, beef or even tofu if you prefer!  Serve with my Miso-Glazed Eggplant for a truly memorable meal!

“I’ve been cooking for 50 years, and this recipe is just about my all-time favorite! Thank you so much!”

Photo of Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls on blue board with white metal spoon.

One of my all-time most favorite comfort foods in the world is traditional, old-fashioned cabbage rolls.  They’re a traditional Polish/East European dish called Golumpki or Galumpkis.  No matter what you call them, they’re delicious!

I wanted to do a modern twist on the traditional and created Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage rolls.  I spiced them up with a healthy dose of Sriracha hot sauce.  Ground pork is more budget-friendly than beef.  However, feel free to use turkey, chicken, beef or even tofu if you desire.

Close-up photo of a whole head of cabbage.

How to prepare cabbage leaves for stuffing:

Preparing the cabbage leaves for filling can be a bit tricky.  There are two ways to do it and both have their downside:

  1. Carefully remove 12 of the outermost leaves from a large head of cabbage then cook them in salted, boiling water until they’re pliable.  DOWNSIDE:  They can be difficult to peel off.  You have to be extremely careful not to tear the leaves when removing them.
  2. Dunk the entire head of cabbage into a pot of salted boiling water and carefully peel leaves off the head of cabbage until you have enough.  DOWNSIDE:  You end up with a small, semi-cooked leftover inner part of the head of cabbage.

If I have an immediate use for the remainder of a head of cabbage such as soup or a quick stir-fry, I prefer the second method.  I say immediately because if you leave the semi-cooked cabbage sealed up more than a day or two in a plastic bag or plastic container, you’ll have something that smells like a batch of sauerkraut when you open it.  Just saying.

How to make Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls:

  • First, you’ll need to make a V-shaped cut out of the bottom of each leaf.  This makes the cabbage leaf easier to roll up and provides two “flaps” to place over the meat.
  • Give the broccoli slaw a quick blanch in the boiling water you used for the cabbage.
  • Mix the filling ingredients together and start rolling!
Photo of cooked cabbage leaf with V-Shape cut out of the bottom.
  • Simply place a good handful of filling in the center, pull the flaps over the meat, fold the sides in and continue rolling.
Photo of uncooked cabbage rolls in white baking dish.
  • If you keep a well-stocked pantry of basic Asian ingredients, you will be able to whip the sauce up easily.  You definitely want to add hoisin sauce to that list!

Now, you’re probably going to read the recipe for the sauce and wonder what you’ll then do with a half of a can of leftover tomato paste!  Irritating, I know.  I freeze small amounts of leftover tomato paste in snack-size zipper-top bags in approximately 1 to 2 tablespoon amounts.  Then, when I need a small amount for soups, sauces or other recipes that require a small amount of tomato paste, it’s always ready to go.  The frozen paste pops right out of the bag and thaws quickly.

Photo of uncooked cabbage rolls in white baking pan with sauce drizzled over the top.

And there you have Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls.  Ahhh, fiery Asian-inspired goodness!

Photo of cooked Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls in white baking dish on blue background with green dish towel and white metal spoon.
Close-up photo of Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls in white baking dish with white metal spoon.

Any leftover rolls reheat beautifully and will also freeze and reheat beautifully.  Hope you enjoy!

Close-up photo of cooked Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls in white baking dish with white metal spoon.
Photo showing Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls cut in half on black plate garnished with sesame seeds.

For more great cabbage recipes, try my:

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Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls overhead shot of entire pan

Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls

4.64 from 100 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Spicy Asian Pork Cabbage Rolls are a spicy, Asian twist on traditional cabbage rolls! Use turkey, chicken, beef or even tofu if you prefer! Any leftovers freeze and reheat beautifully!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Beef
Cuisine Asian
Servings 6
Calories 387 kcal

Ingredients
  

Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 can (3-ounce) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce - preferably Lee Kum Kee brand
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce - or to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch

Cabbage and Filling

  • Oil or non-stick cooking spray
  • Salt
  • 1 large head of green cabbage
  • 1 container (12-ounce) broccoli slaw
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 bunch scallions - white and light green part only, chopped, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 large egg - beaten
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Instructions
 

Sauce

  • Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small saucepan until the cornstarch dissolves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened.
  • Transfer 1/4 cup of the sauce to a bowl large enough to accommodate the filling you will be mixing up. Set remaining sauce aside to cool.

Cabbage and Filling

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil or spray a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Set aside.
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Remove 12 outer leaves from the head of cabbage, being careful not to tear or break the leaves.
  • Place three leaves at a time in the boiling water and cook 1-2 minutes or until pliable. Transfer to a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to drain and cool. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
  • Alternately, boil the entire head of cabbage and remove the leaves with a knife as they become pliable.
  • Keep the water boiling and add the broccoli slaw. Drain immediately in a colander and cool under cold tap water. (You just want it softened slightly so it’s easier to roll into the cabbage leaves.)
  • Combine the broccoli slaw, pork, brown rice, all but 2 tablespoons of the scallions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and egg in the bowl with the reserved sauce and mix well.
  • Cut the thick vein out of each leaf of cabbage in an upside-down V-shape. Place 1/12th of the filling in the center of each cabbage leaf.
  • Pull the bottom “flaps” up and over the filling, overlapping them slightly. Fold in the sides and roll up.
  • Place in the prepared baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the rolls.
  • Cover with aluminum foil and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of each roll registers 165 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
  • Spoon any sauce that settled in the bottom of the baking dish back over the rolls. Garnish with reserved 2 tablespoons scallions and sesame seeds.

Notes

Broccoli slaw is typically found near the prepped vegetable section of the produce department. It is shredded broccoli stems, cabbage and carrots.
I found hoisin sauce can really vary by brand and some are heavy on five-spice.  I use Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce which does not have an overwhelming five-spice note.
Unseasoned rice vinegar is also called “natural” and does not have salt or sugar.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Bake, cool completely, divide into desired portions and place into an airtight container.  Freeze 1-2 months.  Thaw in the refrigerator.  To reheat, can be microwaved or reheated in a toaster oven or oven.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 1366mg | Potassium: 720mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 301IU | Vitamin C: 81mg | Calcium: 152mg | Iron: 3mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




65 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is really good. It was not as hard as expected. The sauce is great. It made a lot of sauce so I am keeping some for other recipes. I did not have broccoli slaw so just used more cabbage and carrots and lots of green onions. Hubby was impressed.

    1. Hi, Angie, Thanks so very much and so happy you both enjoyed!! Appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment and rate. Thanks again!!

    1. Hi, Melissa, Thanks so much for your question. I would be afraid cooked ramen noodles would get really mushy and overcooked. If you don’t already have cooked ramen noodles ready and waiting, I would suggest using uncooked noodles. Thanks again and let me know how it goes!

  2. Can I freeze filling uncooked? It made enough for double the amount of cabbage leaves, based on the size leaves I used.

    1. Hi, Cindy, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, that should not be a problem; it’s like freezing uncooked ground meat of any type. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

    1. Hi, Randall, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, you can, but I wouldn’t do any longer than that because of the ground pork. Ground meats have a very limited freshness/safety timeframe. Make sure your ground pork is super fresh and don’t go without baking the rolls any longer than 24 hours. Thanks again and hope everyone enjoys!

  3. 5 stars
    Loved these! I used napa cabbage leaves. Actually, Melissa brand sells the leaves all peeled off now; it makes it so much easier!

    1. Hi, Sue, Thanks so much and so glad you enjoyed!! That is great to know that it’s now possible to get the leaves already separated and ready to go. I would think all one would have to do then is place them in the microwave briefly to make them more pliable. Thanks again!