Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

Stuffed cabbage is a favorite in Japan, where it is often simmered in dashi or tomato sauce.  This version is a mix of Japanese and Armenian cooking styles.  Give it a try and you will be coming back for seconds!

Stuffed Cabbage is a dish made all around the world that can be constructed in many ways.  I was talking with a friend of mine who is Armenian, and we got to discussing how we could possibly fuse the two styles – Japanese and Armenian.  Stuffed cabbage is popular in both countries, although there are differences in how it’s prepared.  For this recipe you will need to core the cabbage with a knife and then boil the cabbage in hot water removing the outer leaves as they loosen up,

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

These stuffed cabbage leaves are spicy.  They are not hot, but for people unaccustomed to eating middle eastern food or for children it can take some getting used to.  You can make a more mild flavored version by reducing the cumin and eliminating the fennel, allspice, cinnamon and cilantro altogether.  It is still absolutely delicious, and your kids may thank you for it.

30 mins 1 hour 8 servings (about 16 rolls)
PREP 30 mins
COOKING 1 hour
YIELD 8 servings (about 16 rolls)


Stuffed Cabbage

  • 1 head of Cabbage
  • 6 cups chicken broth or dashi
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Fresh Lemon


  • 1.1 lbs Ground Beef  (500g)
  • 3/4 cups short grain White Rice, uncooked
  • 3 TBSP Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh Italian Parsley
  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 tsp Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp fresh Dill, chopped finely
  • 1/2 tsp Dry Cilantro


  • Finely chop the garlic and the Italian parsley.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients and mix well with a wooden spoon or by hand until all the ingredients are well combined.
Filling before mixing


Filling after mixing


  • With a sharp or serrated knife, core the cabbage.

  • Boil the cabbage in water on medium high heat.  As the leaves soften, use a pair of tongs to gently remove the outer leaves.  Continue until you are unable to remove anymore.

  • Return the leaves into the boiling water.  Boil for another 2-3 minutes until softened.  Drain the leaves and rinse under cold water.

  • Put a layer leaves in a large Dutch oven using the 2 or 3 largest outer leaves.  This will prevent the stuffed cabbage from sticking to the pot.

  • Starting with the largest leaf, begin rolling the filling into each leaf.  Use about 2 tsps of filling for smaller leaves up to 2 tablespoons for the larger ones.  Use the fill, fold, roll technique as shown below.


  • Place the cabbage rolls in the pot on top of the leaves.  Place the larger rolls on the bottom layer, packing loosely, and layer the smaller rolls on top.

  • Pour the oil, water and chicken broth over the rolls.  It should just cover the rolls.  If not, add additional water.  Bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat to low, and simmer for one hour.  Plate and serve with fresh lemon.


  • This is a fusion of Japanese and Armenian cooking.  The Japanese elements include the short grain rice (instead of long grain), the use of ground beef instead of lamb, the use of dashi or broth, and using uncooked rice.  The spices along with the mix of lemon and olive oil give this an Armenian flavor!

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