Written by a gal from NYC living in Sweden, this blog dabbles in Swedish food and culture!
Bet you didn’t know that this Friday is Swedish Cabbage Roll Day. Which means it’s obviously time for Cabbage Rolls! This was one of the first Swedish dishes I had when I visited Sweden for the first time 3 years ago. I was then told that it actually originated in the Ottoman Empire, or Turkey, they like to call it nowadays. A few theories exist about how Cabbage Rolls ended up here. Some believe that King Karl XII (1697-1718) and his soldiers brought the recipe home after they had tasted these rolls somewhere within the Ottoman Empire. Others believe that the dish came with the Turks who were sent to Sweden to see that their loans were repaid. Cabbage rolls are actually a Swedish version of grape leaf rolls, which are quite common in the Middle East.
This reminded me of when I was in Berlin 10 years ago and wanted to eat some traditional German food. And what I got was a doner kebab. What is this? I wondered. I didn’t know what I expected for German food, but a doner kebab was certainly not it. But actually, it is eaten so often in Germany that it is considered fairly German now. I will say that at least Cabbage Rolls have developed over the past 300 years to become a part of true Swedish cuisine. What can be more Swedish than serving a dish with a side of potatoes and lingonberries?
I’d say that this is one of my favorite Swedish dishes. They taste so “f@#*%ng” good with lingonberries and gravy, so much so that I can eat them all night. Okay, not true. I can eat two or three at a time. With potatoes. And carrots! But then again, I love anything that’s wrapped, like pierogies, dumplings, tortellinins, raviolis, tamales … Wrapped foods are fantastical, with the exception of wraps themselves. So if you have not tried this dish yet, you need to now! Happy Cabbage Roll Day and eat lots!
recipe adapted from http://www.hemmetsjournal.se/mat/Kaldolmar/recept-10036
1 medium head of white cabbage
¼ cup short grain rice
¾ cup milk
½ yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
400 g of ground beef
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
drippings from the pan
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon beef stock
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1. Remove the stem from the cabbage and boil in a pot of water with the core facing up, until the leaves are tender. Carefully peel the cabbage leaves and cut off the thick part of each leaf.
2. Boil the rice with the ¾ cup milk milk for about 30 minutes.
3. Peel and chop the onion and fry in a pan with butter, until soft. Mix the meat, fried onions, rice, milk, egg, salt, and pepper together. The meat should be fairly loose and not packed tightly.
4. Add a dollop (about 2 to 3 tablespoons) of meat onto each cabbage leaf, fold the leaves, and roll up into small dolmas (rolls). You should have about 12 cabbage rolls. Lightly brown them in a pan with butter. Start by frying them with the seam side down.
5. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Transfer the cabbage rolls to a heatproof dish and drizzle with corn syrup. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
6. To make the sauce: Pour the drippings from the pan and the heavy cream into a measuring cup. Add enough water to make about 1¾ cups of sauce. Bring to a boil and add the cornstarch. Add the beef stock and soy sauce. Season with salt, pepper, and syrup. Serve the cabbage rolls with boiled potatoes, lingonberries, and carrots, drizzle with sauce, and Bon appetite!