Mexican-Ukrainian Fusion???

If Mexican-Korean Fusion works, maybe Mexican-Anything Fusion can. Let’s test this theory with these Mexican Holubtsi (a.k.a. cabbage rolls).

This recipe fulfills my New Year’s Resolution since it’s good for me (brown rice, cabbage and lean poultry), it’s got Zumba in the seasonings AND it makes me feel good, like all things Ukrainian.

My grandfather (Gee Gee) came from the Ukraine as did the parents of my grandmother (Baba, the one who made such wonderful chicken soup). Ukrainian food (perogies, pyrizhky, holubtsi) takes me back to their kitchen and to my own childhood home.The cabbage roll filling used here is a heated-up version of the traditional Ukrainian style. The cabbage is napa (Mexican-Ukrainian-Chinese Fusion???) and is uncooked, lending crunch and a mustardy flavor, something all self-respecting Ukrainians relish.

Where Ukrainian and Mexican meet is at the sour cream. Ermmm…well…Where Ukrainian and Tex-Mex meet is at the sour cream…but whatever…you MUST have it!

Use light sour cream, NOT fat-free. If you don’t like the light, try a different brand. Some are TERRIBLE, others, better (nothing beats the real stuff though, I know). I use Daisy Brand‘s Light Sour Cream, made of cultured cream, skim milk and vitamin A palmitate (no guar gum or modified cornstarch in sight).

Mexican Cabbage Rolls

Serves 4-5

  • 1/3-1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 12-15 napa cabbage leaves (find out how to trim them below)
  • Rice filling (recipe below)

Pico de Gallo:

It’s best if the flavors have time to blend. Ideally, make it earlier in the day.

  • 1 and 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (4 plum-sized)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Napa Cabbage Leaves:

Rinse the leaves, shake off excess water and then pat dry with paper towel. From any really big leaves, trim an inch or two from the bottom (core) edge. From all leaves, cut the core away with two cuts that together form a V. Refrigerate in a plastic bag until ready to serve.

(If you don’t like really crunchy cabbage, you can trim more of the core edge, right to the very tip of the core, thus not necessitating the V cuts.)

Rice Filling:

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (I like Organic Texmati) or 3 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle chile (from a can containing adobo sauce, like this), minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp adobo sauce (from your chipotle can)
  • 2 tsp hot mustard (English or Russian-style)

Cook the rice according to package directions.

Warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno. Cook until onion is just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and cumin. Cook, stirring for 30 seconds.

Add the turkey, salt and adobo sauce. Stir to break up turkey and combine ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes or until turkey bits are no longer pink inside.

Combine hot mustard with 2 tablespoons of warm water. Pour over the turkey and stir.

Fluff the cooked rice with a fork to separate grains a bit. Add the rice to the turkey and stir gently to combine. (If using cold rice, turn heat down to medium and add 2 tablespoons warm water to the turkey when you add the rice so that the filling doesn’t dry out. Cook until heated through).

Taste and add more salt if required.

Serve like fajitas with the sour cream, cabbage leaves, pico de gallo and rice filling in separate serving dishes. Everyone spoons 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice mixture onto a cabbage leaf and then tops it with pico de gallo and sour cream.

To eat: Fold the V ends up over the filling. Wrap the sides of the cabbage leaf over the filling (and over the V ends) and pick it up…so you can eat your holubtsi soft-taco style.


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  1. How Zumba and P!nk Changed My New Year’s Resolution « Cook the Story

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