Thursday, December 16, 2010

What to do with Nori? Cabbage Seaweed Rolls Of Course!

So the other day I happened to be in the grocery store (not an unusual occurrence...) in the international aisle ogling all of the Asian sauces and ingredients that I DIDN'T have (it was rather sad), when suddenly I saw a package on the bottom shelf that caught my attention: NORI! (aka: a type of edible seaweed) I never knew my favorite grocery store actually had any so of course I had to get some (AFTER checking the price and affirming the bank would not be broken of course)!
I felt very adventurous indeed when I arrived home and reverently placed the flat square package in my overcrowded baking cabinet, but in the back of my mind was the doubtful voice saying "now WHAT am I going to DO with this??". Once again I pushed that thought away and decided I would be making something Asian for dinner very soon.
My first attempt a few days later was a project I've been experimenting with for a while now: Miso Soup. However, though it would most definitely make a good story...I won't bore you with the detail of that epic. fail. Not this time anyways...let's just say I found out that nori cooks up great in soup, but rehydrated shitaki mushrooms not so much. Oh well...we'll revisit miso soup some other time. This is the seaweed adventure.
SO...I decided to make up for that grossness the next day by coming back with a delicious stirfry. A cabbage stirfry. Without a recipe. I'd never tried making this before, but my thought was to sort of mimic my favorite store-bought eggrolls that have this amazing cabbage and carrot filling except make seaweed rolls instead. This was quite a risky endeavor in my opinion...dabbling with Asian food that I have little experience working with and all...but I had a good feeling...and I was hungry :)
I'll try to keep the whole experimental cooking process short (as I could easily make it all long and drawn out and blah). So yeah, I went with a combination of 2 parts cabbage to one part carrots and left out white onions because I had some scallions I wanted to throw in. The sauce I used is typically made using teriaki sauce, but I wanted some soy sauce too, so I used half and half, but I'm sure using only one or the other would work. I also added LOTS of freshly ground black pepper throughout the whole cooking because I know it tastes especially good in my eggrolls. The finished stirfry actually was quite good I thought! People kept coming up and just eating it right out of the pan with forks before I could even roll it up in the nori! As for the seaweed rolls themselves...I thought they were really good! My family is not really accustomed to the taste so they weren't huge fans (my brother compared it to licking the inside of a goldfish bowl...) but they didn't mind it so much after the ocean flavor was masked a bit with soy sauce or teriaki dipping sauce. There ended up being NO leftovers and I now have a new favorite recipe that is fast, easy, tasty, and healthy! Booyah! I just wish people hadn't gobbled them up QUITE so fast so that I could have gotten a few better pictures, but I won't complain :)

NOTE: I used eggs and brown rice to thicken up the stirfry and add some nice flavors and textures, though if you wanted to lighten it up, you could just add some bean sprouts or bell peppers instead. Also, if you don't care for the vegetarian factor, my brother and I agreed, some pork would compliment the flavor very well.

Vegetarian Cabbage Seaweed Rolls:

-4 c shredded white cabbage (about half a large head)
-2 c shredded carrots (about 4 large)
-2 T canola, vegetable, or sesame oil
-salt and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-1/2 c vegetable stock
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 c soy sauce or teriaki sauce OR a combination of both
-3 T cornstarch
-1 c cooked brown rice
-4-5 large eggs, beaten
- 1 bunch of scallions, sliced, not too thinly
- 1 package of roasted nori (10-15 sheets I think)

1) Prepare the vegetables ( I used the shredding blade attachment on my food processor, but I think hand-shredding would have given a bit nicer of a product)*also if you haven't cooked your rice yet, DO IT NOW. Mine was quick-cooking rice so that helped :)
2) In a large wok or frying pan, heat the oil to med-high and then add the cabbage and carrots. Season with the salt and pepper and saute for 5-10 min, stirring occasionally, until not-quite soft and fully cooked. Meanwhile, whisk together the garlic, stock, sauces, and cornstarch.
3) Pour the sauce mixture over the cooked vegetables and stir until evenly covered and thickened (the sauce should thicken quite quickly) then add the cooked rice.
4) Reduce the heat slightly to med. Push everything in the pan over to one side if using a frying pan, (if using a wok, just get out small frying pan and oil lightly) and add the beaten eggs. Scramble the eggs and then incorporate into the rest of the mixture. Then stir in the scallions and remove pan from heat.
5) Set out a sheet of nori and work quickly to scoop stirfry mixture onto the sheet and spread around so that there is a fairly even layer all over (you can do a practice one to see how much filling you want to add, but it shouldn't be a whole lot). Then quickly roll up the nori and allow it to sit for a minute or two. The idea is that the heat from the stirfry will slightly cook the seaweed and make it nice and soft. 
6) With a very sharp knife, slice the seaweed logs thickly ( I got about 6 slices per log) 
7) Serve immediately with dipping sauce if you are very hungry, or chill and save for later. I liked them best chilled, while my mom liked them hot so experiment and see what you like!

 Be ready to go, the cooking goes pretty fast!

 If all the veggies don't fit at first, wait til they cook down a bit and add the rest

 Tee hee I like how my burner is purple in this pic!

 Looks kinda gross right now, but it really was yummy, promise!

 I thought they looked fairly decent for not having a sushi roller or anything fancy

 Sweet 'n sour sauce would probably have been good too...

 I'm pretty sure I ate this many all by myself!

Mmm teriaki and fake sushi, don't love it til ya try it! :p


  1. Yummy! The ingredients in this sound fantastic!

  2. thanks!! i'm gonna keep messing around with it, but yeah it's just something quick with simple, oh so tasty ingredients! mmm