Napa Cabbage and Pork Rolls

This is one of the first Japanese recipes I learned.  The best thing about it, aside from its subtle flavor, is its flexibility.  You will notice that my measurements are very loose, partly because I am lazy, and also because the recipe is pretty liberal.  We are not trying to make macaroons here.

Ingredients and Procedure

(Makes 6 Rolls)

6 whole napa cabbage leaves
2 handfuls of ground pork
A chunk of carrot, diced
2 shiitake  mushrooms, dried or fresh, diced*
Half of a small onion, diced
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp sake
A dash of salt and pepper
3/4 cup of dashi stock

* Note: I like dried shiitake mushrooms because I find them more flavorful and fragrant.  When using dried mushrooms, give the mushrooms a quick rinse and soak it in water for at least an hour, until the mushrooms are soft.  If you want to, you can substitute part of the dashi stock with that soaking water.

In a lightly oiled frying pan, brown the diced onions until it turns fragrant.

Trim off the tough stems of the cabbage leaves.  Blanche briefly until leaves are soft.

In a bowl, season the pork with sake, salt, and pepper.  Give the pork a few squeezes with your hands; this improves the texture of the ground meat.  Add carrot, mushrooms, onion, egg, and flour.  Mix thoroughly.

Divide the pork mix in 6 equal parts.  Shape each portion into an oval burger, and roll each one up with a cabbage leaf like you would with a burrito.

Bring the dashi to a boil in a pot, and place each cabbage roll inside.  Turn to medium-low heat, cover, and let it simmer for 10 minutes until the pork is cooked.

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