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Monday, November 02, 2009

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Roll Soup)

I had made these Vietnamese stuffed cabbage rolls a while back, but again, was dissatisfied with the original photos.


I foresee a lot of recipe re-dos if this keeps up.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 1

My mom used to make Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) a lot when I was little. Instead of wrapping a scallion to hold everything together though, she shoved a toothpick through each roll. Now that my parents are older and more conscious of their health, they eat a lot more fish and fewer pork dishes. Perhaps she still makes this, but when I'm home, mom cooks more elaborate dishes.

I had forgotten how much I liked the simplicity of this dish until I made this recipe again.

Perfect timing since this month's Weekend Wokking secret ingredient is CABBAGE, as chosen by MomGateway, who hosted the ginger roundup with 8 ginger recipes.
There's really not much too it. The ground pork in the filling will flavor the broth, the natural sweetness of the cabbage will balance it all out. So really, what you've got to rely upon is presentation in order to make this dish shine. The key is to trim down the spines and to lightly blanch the cabbage leaves in order to make them more pliable. Then it becomes a simple matter of tucking and rolling.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 2

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup)

For about 4 servings or about a dozen rolls, you'll need:
1 head cabbage
3 scallions, leaves only
1/2 lb ground pork
1 small onion, pureed
2 tsp Nuoc Mam (Vietnamese Fish Sauce)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Optional: 1/4 lb ground shrimp

Pluck the leaves off the scallions. Wash and set aside.

Unless you're saving them for another recipe, puree 1 small onion with the white part of the scallions. Add the onions to the ground pork along with ground shrimp if you wish, 2 tsp of fish sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Set aside.

Set a 5-quart pot of water to boil. By the time the water boils, you should be ready to add the cabbage leaves for blanching.

The easiest way for me to peel off cabbage leaves is to remove the core first. Just shove in a knife at an angle toward the center of the cabbage and go around until you can fully remove the core.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 3

Peel off as many leaves as you can.

Then lightly trim the bottom part of the spines.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 4

When the water boils, add in the cabbage leaves starting with the inner white leaves first since they take longer to cook. Then add the green outer leaves. Finally, add the scallions. The cabbage doesn't need to be cooked, just blanched enough to soften for easier folding. This should only take a few minutes.

With a pair of chopsticks or tongs, remove the cabbage leaves from the pot and drain in a colander. Rinse with cold water to cool down the leaves. Don't toss the cabbage water. You can use that to cook the cabbage rolls later.

Rolling is simple. Just lay out a cabbage leaf, add about a tablespoon or so of the ground pork mixture in the center.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 5

Fold up the bottom.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 6

Tuck in the sides.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 7


Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 8

Tie off the cabbage roll with a scallion leaf.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 9

When you've finished stuffing all the cabbage leaves, line them at the bottom of a pot. Any extra pork can be rolled into meatballs for the soup, or frozen for later use. Extra cabbage may be added to the soup if you wish.

Pour the previous cabbage water into the pot until the rolls are covered by at least several inches. Add extra water if needed. Place a plate that fits inside the pot to hold the cabbage rolls down.

Cook on medium-low heat for about half an hour or until the pork is cooked through. Taste the broth and add fish sauce if needed.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 10

Serve a few rolls per person as a starter or add rice and make it a meal.

Canh Bap Cai Nhoi Thit (Vietnamese Stuffed Cabbage Soup) 11


Who else made Vietnamese stuffed cabbage?
Shaved Ice Sundays used napa cabbage and served it with a tomato sauce.
Lan of Angry Asian Creations added shrimp to the filling and served it with fish sauce.

I'm submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks to celebrate the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient. This month's secret ingredient is CABBAGE. The host for November is Graziana of Erbe in Cucina (Cooking with Herbs). Check her blog for the cabbage roundup with 10 recipes (once mine gets added).

If you'd like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who's hosting next month. If you've participated in the past and would like to host, please email me.

My other cabbage recipes:
Budae Jjigae (Korean Army Base Stew)
Baechu Kimchee (Korean Pickled Napa Cabbage)
Canh Bap Cai Bac Thao (Vietnamese Napa Cabbage Soup)
Fried Rice with Kimchee and Spam
Goi Ga Bap Cai (Vietnamese Chicken Cabbage Salad)
Kimchee Pajeon (Korean Kimchee Pancake)
Soon Dubu Kimchee Chigae (Korean Soft Tofu Kimchee Soup)
Vegetarian Soon Dubu Jjigae (Korean Tofu Stew)

1 year ago today, the longan tree in my backyard.
2 years ago today, Ciabatta-ish No-Knead Bread.
3 years ago today, Saigon Bistro - Westminster (Little Saigon).


  1. Do you think I could substitute ground beef for pork? I realize it wouldn't have that porky goodness.

  2. What gorgeous camera work. I'm in awe and more than a little jealous. It's a good thing I like you :-).

  3. GREAT instructions, WC. My mom hasn't made this in ages. I love cabbage in just about any form so I will have to give this a try soon. Thanks!

  4. I love your recipes! I am going to make this for my dad. Thanks!

  5. yum! this was something my mom used to make when i was growing up too! it was fun because i used to do the wrapping for her! we've added chopped shrimp and mushrooms to the pork too!

  6. oh! i've thought of this soup off and on for the last few weeks, thinking about making it again, i enjoyed it so last year! your broth looks light, so not greasy and such the perfect complement to the meat and cabbage combo.
    this soup makes such a pretty addition to a dinner table, i'm starving right now just looking at it!

  7. Lovely photo and gorgeous presentation.

  8. I think the new photos look great. :)

  9. Gorgeous photos! The extra work is most certainly worth it as seen by all of the photos in this post :). Now I need to try making my home photos better too now that I have a new camera :). Love the presentation and the idea of rolling the pork and cabbage together. Why do I not see this in Vietnamese restaurants...or is it that I do not look at the menu carefully enough?

  10. OOOHH I never thought of this, nor has anyone in my fam ever made this, i like this, alot! Simple and you get 3 of the most important servings, soup, vege, and meats! Love it!

  11. Pam,
    Sure. Why not? It'll just have beefy goodness instead. :)

    Aww, thanks! It's really just a matter of taking a whole bunch of photos so the chances of something decent coming out are greater. :P

    Is your mom watching her health too? Seems like with a lot of the peasant dishes my mom used to make, she rarely does anymore.

    La Takahashi,
    Let me know how it goes! I always love hearing back from you.

    I can remember shoving toothpicks into each roll when I helped my mom.

    It's good for days when I'm just not feeling like eating anything heavy. For some reason, I always feel like I'm eating healthier if there's cabbage involved.


    Weezer Monkey,
    Thanks. But you didn't even see the old ones. They were bad. Too much glare so all I could see was the light reflecting off the broth.

    New camera? What kind did you get? Maybe this is too simple of a dish for VNese restaurants to feature? It wouldn't keep that well so I couldn't see them having a lot on hand?

    You've never had this before? Really?

  12. Thank you, you make it look soooo simple! Thank you for the hosting opportunity.


  13. yay! more south beach! :) (i'm continually south beaching girl! how do u think i keep my milfy figure?)

  14. I've never had this before, sounds great though. The only stuffed cabbage I had was with a tomato based sauce.

  15. I checked your blog today, and as soon as I saw this recipe I decided I would make it for dinner. I'm really glad I did; it was nice and simple and flavorful and it really hit the spot for a cold rainy day. My husband, who hadn't encountered fish sauce before, liked it a lot as well!

  16. Graziana,
    Thank you for hosting!

    Haha. I didn't know you were looking for so many South Beach recipes.

    I put tomato sauce into my Greek-style stuffed cabbage. That has rice and fennel fronds.

    Oh, that's always lovely to hear! I'm so glad you and your husband liked this soup. I like it on cold rainy days as well.

  17. WC,
    I got a Nikon D90 contrary to what you and most others that I know have :). Great camera (although I am still learning how to use parts and features of the camera) and I am happy with the kit lens for now. Had some nice shots already but more practice makes better photos of course!

  18. ETE,
    Niiice! A lot of bloggers have Nikons. Practice makes perfect!

  19. Hi WC,
    I just made this recipe today, comes out great, love the sweet taste from the cabbage that I never knew exist (I normally don't eat cabbage but this recipe was just mouth watering and I couldn't resist it... I almost gave up pealing the cabbage though, it was SO hard not to break them, I ended up eating 1/2 boiled and managed to make 8 stuffing cabbage as soup. How did you get yours pealed so perfect looking? hopefully my 2nd time will be better...:)

  20. Christine,
    Yay! I love the natural sweetness of cabbage. Sometimes, I'm happy with just cabbage soup. So nice to hear that you tried it anyway even though you didn't know if you'd like it. Shh! I only peeled enough leaves for the photos. :P

  21. I made your soup for my dad last night with Napa Cabbage. It was really yummy. Thanks so much!

  22. I know this is an old post, but I've made it recently and it tasted just like my dad's. Thank you for drawing up fond memories.

  23. Pam,
    I love comments on old posts. Lets me know people are still referring to the old recipes. I liked that you said it was like your dad's version. Not that moms don't deserve credit too, but not too many Vietnamese dads cook so it's always nice to see.


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