When my sons come home to cook for me, life has come full circle. I’ve said that again and again because I love to say it. Nothing is more fulfilling to a mom than seeing one’s children do what you taught them, and doing it better than you did. I’m talking about my son, Constante who cooked this delightful Chinese Cabbage Chicken Rolls in Curry Coconut Broth.
My sons were home briefly for Christmas but had enough time to help me cook. My younger one did a quick inventory of what I had in the kitchen ~ ground chicken, a bundle of baby bok choy cabbage, leftover tomato sauce and coconut cream.
Together we worked in the kitchen. I suggested the addition of some ingredients to the ground chicken, which gave it more Asian flavors. After forming the ground chicken meatballs, we refrigerated it a while so it could be easier to handle. Later, the meatballs were wrapped with bok choy leaves and tied with butcher’s twine. The broth simmered slowly so that the coconut-curry flavors could blend well. And one at a time, my son slipped in the cabbage-covered ground chicken meatballs into the curry broth. It didn’t take long to cook and the sweet coconut aroma flavored with intense yellow curry was intoxicating. When it was done, we couldn’t wait to pour it all over a bed of fragrant white jasmine rice. What a splendid meal to herald in the holidays.
The round meatballs in this dish was a good way to celebrate the New Year. Filipinos like to ring in the New Year with a big celebration of food to symbolize prosperity. And for good luck, I have been told by superstitious aunts that we must always have “round shaped food” during the New Year. The irony of these superstitious customs has not escaped me especially since the Philippines is a staunch Catholic country with religious beliefs that center deep in our faith first and foremost before anything else.
Ultimately, no matter what customs or beliefs behind Filipino holidays, this dish was divine and the family time spent enjoying it was priceless.
To all of you my loyal and supportive blog friends and readers, thank you for giving me your time all these months. May the New Year bring you continued prosperity, the abundance of good food and much happiness! See you in 2013 !
This Chinese Cabbage Chicken Rolls in Curry Coconut Broth is our family’s take on the classic cabbage rolls recipe. My son put together ground chicken, onions, seasonings and Asian sauces and wrapped them in little bundles of bok choy or Chinese cabbage. They cooked in a heavenly heavy broth of coconut, tomato sauce and curry. The aromas of sweet coconut and earthy yellow curry were marvelous and a good blend with the crisp bok choy leaves encasing the chicken mixture. This is a great family meal that combines both vegetables and meat for a get together or any night. I added a few ingredients to the recipe “Stuffed Cabbage” from the cookbook “Cooking with Sandy Daza”. This recipe we made serves 4 to 6.
- ground chicken - 1 pound
- onion - 1 whole, chopped fine, separate 1/2 for ground chicken, half for saute of broth
- black pepper powder - 1 teaspoon
- Chef's Salt Tuscan Herb - 1 teaspoon (from online sources)
- yellow curry powder - 2 teaspoons, divided, 1 teaspoon for meatballs, rest for coconut broth
- hoisin sauce - 1 Tablespoon (from Asian markets)
- Panko bread crumbs - 1/3 cup (from Asian markets or large major groceries)
- egg - 1 whole
- baby bok choy or Chinese cabbage - 18 to 20 pieces, washed, torn off from trunk of stem (from Asian markets)
- butcher's twine - for tying cabbage rolls
- garlic - 4 large cloves, minced
- tomato sauce - 1 cup
- chicken or vegetable broth - 1/2 cup
- yellow curry powder - 1 Tablespoon
- fish sauce or Filipino - 1 teaspoon
- coconut cream - 1 cup
- vegetable oil - 4 Tablespoons
- scallions - 1/2 cup, chopped, for garnish
- boiled jasmine white rice - for serving
- Prepare the meat stuffing by combining in a bowl these ingredients: ground chicken, chopped onions, yellow curry powder, Chef’s salt powder, egg, Panko bread crumbs, hoisin sauce. Mix well and form into 2-inch sized meatballs. Place on a tray and refrigerate the meatballs for 30 minutes to an hour to firm up.
- Meanwhile, on a large skillet, over medium high heat, add the vegetable oil. When oil is hot enough, add the onions, garlic and saute for 1 to 2 minutes till onions are transparent.
- Pour the tomato sauce and broth into the skillet and lower heat to a low flame. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes till tomato sauce tastes slightly sweeter and less tart.
- Take out the ground chicken meatballs from the refrigerator. Wash and separate the bok choy leaves from the stems. Place a chicken meatball into each bok choy leaf, on the hollow part of the stem. Cover with another bok choy leaf, wrap to encase the meat ball well. Tie the whole meat-filled bok choy leaf with butcher’s twine. When done tying, set aside for a few minutes till ready to add to skillet of broth.
- To the skillet filled with simmering tomato sauce, add the fish sauce, coconut cream and curry. Stir and blend well. Add the chef’s salt and blend broth well. Try to maintain a low heat so that the coconut cream does not curdle. Stir slowly now and then so coconut broth does not stick to the bottom.
- Slip in the bok choy rolls into the skillet with the simmering broth. Cover and cook for 25 minutes more till meat is fully cooked. We had extra chicken meatballs uncovered and added them to the simmering stew as well, to cook at the same time.
- Garnish with chopped scallions. Serve hot with boiled white rice.
- Cook’s Comments: If preferred, use ground beef or ground pork for this recipe. It is just as delicious and easy. And if regular cabbage is more convenient, feel free to use as a substitute ingredient.
- Recipe Notes: I used baby bok choy for this recipe. If you prefer, you can use the regular bok choy or Chinese cabbage which has larger leaves.
- Ingredient availability : Chef's Salt Tuscan Herb was a gift in my swag from the IACP conference this year. It is an artisan salt variety which consists of the following seasonings ~ garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, fennel, tellicherry peppercorns. It is available from online sources. If not convenient, you can omit this and add regular salt plus any of these natural herbs mentioned.
Photography credit : Thanks to Constante G. Quirino