The Washington Post

Sesame Chicken Cabbage Rolls

Sesame Chicken Cabbage Rolls 8.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky/The Washington Post

Aug 20, 2019

This make-ahead, party-size pot of stuffed cabbage, filled with bites of chicken, rice and the bright flavors of chile, sesame and ginger, is lighter than the traditional Eastern European version. Make sure each chicken piece is bite-size (semi-frozen chicken is easier to cut) and the vegetables are chopped small enough to distribute evenly throughout the filling. When rolling the filling into the leaves, do your best to make a tidy package, then place the roll seam-side down in the pot. Once cooked, the filling will bind the roll together.

NOTE: Look for a cantaloupe-size cabbage with outer leaves larger than your hand. If you dislike touching raw chicken, wear food safe gloves, which are available in grocery and kitchen supply stores, pharmacies and online.

Make Ahead: The filling may be made 1 day in advance, wrapped well and refrigerated.

Storage Notes: The cooked rolls will keep for up to 2 days. To reheat, make sure there is liquid on the bottom of the pan, and reheat over medium heat on the stove top, or in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

8 - 10 makes about 20 cabbage rolls

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8-10 makes about 20 cabbage rolls

  • One (1 1/2-pound) head savoy cabbage (see note)
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces (see headnote)
  • 1 cup diced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (about 1 rib)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar


Bring a large stock pot filled with water to a strong boil. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the core from the cabbage, leaving the rest of the head intact. Lower the cabbage into the boiling water. It takes about 1 minute for the outer leaves to cook, and as they soften, remove them from the water and place on a cutting board. Continue to remove softened leaves as you are able. The entire cabbage should be softened within about 5 minutes. Carefully remove from the water and continue to peel the leaves away until you have about 20 leaves stacked up. (There may be leftover cabbage.)

Using a sharp knife, remove the center rib from each cabbage leaf, leaving the rest of the leaf intact.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, lime juice, cornstarch and tamari or soy sauce until smooth. Add the ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir well. Stir in the chicken, carrots, peas, celery, rice, cilantro and sesame seeds, coating everything with the sauce and distributing the vegetables evenly through the mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out about 1/2 cup of the mixture and place it in the center of a cabbage leaf. Tuck in the sides and bring the bottom edges together to make a tidy package. Place the cabbage roll seam side down in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling, stacking the rolls in two or three layers, if necessary.

Pour the chicken stock and rice wine vinegar over the cabbage rolls. Cut a parchment circle to fit the inside the pan and place on top of the rolls; this will help them steam evenly. Cover the pot and bake (middle rack) for 1 hour, until the rolls are cooked through.

Serve hot with some of the steaming juices spooned over the rolls.

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Recipe Source

From Bring It! columnist Cathy Barrow.

Tested by Cathy Barrow.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 10): 410

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 26g 40%

Saturated Fat: 6g 30%

Cholesterol: 110mg 37%

Sodium: 680mg 28%

Total Carbohydrates: 22g 7%

Dietary Fiber: 4g 16%

Sugar: 3g

Protein: 24g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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