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Steamed Chinese Cabbage Parcels

Chinese food is often stereotyped as heavy, greasy and seasoned with a hefty dose of MSG. Let me assure you: This is a myth!
Steamed Chinese Cabbage Parcels

The food real Chinese people eat on a day to day basis in their homes bears no resemblance to the contents of the local takeaway. Some of the dishes were made up especially for western palates (Maryland Chicken anyone?)  and many are greeted with quizzical blank expressions in the company of authentic locals.

Food is very much celebratory in the Chinese culture and families prioritise eating meals together. The style of a multitude sharing platters in the centre of the table illustrates the emphasis on the unifying symbolism of food.

A hugely common method of home cooking is to steam food (I know - there isn't usually a single steamed dish to be found amongst the deep fried delights on most takeout menus). This retains the most nutrients as well as flavour in the food. It's simple and healthy.

One of the things I miss most on this Paleo journey is going for Dim Sum. The odd bite of rice I can happily tolerate but the soy in most dishes as well as MSG causes all sorts of unpleasant digestive and skin reactions for days.

This dish is inspired by the flavours of typical steamed dumplings - using cabbage leaves instead of grain-based wrappers. I used a combination of savoy cabbage leaves and chinese cabbage leaves - both work and it's fun to experiment with the different leaves to determine personal preference. The darker leaves like savoy tend to lose their vibrant green after extended steaming so the paler chinese cabbage looks prettier (and more like traditional dumpling wrappers!)

The filling tastes best with pork mince but turkey mince also works (I usually add a tbsp of sesame oil to turkey which is typically more dry than pork). There is crunch from bamboo shoots along with the familiar flavours of ginger, garlic and coconut aminos instead of soy.
Serve alongside a bowl of dipping sauce - either simply some extra coconut aminos, or mix in a little chili and some fish sauce.

Steamed Chinese Cabbage Parcels

Grain-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Refined Sugar-free

Serves 4

12-15 medium to large cabbage leaves (I used both savoy and chinese cabbage), washed
500g minced pork (or turkey)
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 inch root ginger, finely chopped
100g (approx 1/2 cup) bamboo shoots, chopped
4 tbsp coconut aminos, or tamari if tolerated
2 tsp fish sauce
1 egg (or substitute 1 tbsp arrowroot powder if egg intolerant)
freshly ground black pepper
Optional: red chili flakes to garnish

1.  In a large mixing bowl, combine thepork, onion, garlic powder, ginger, bamboo shoots, coconut aminos (or tamari), fish sauce and egg. Season well with black pepper. Set aside to marinade - this can be done overnight and tastes better with a longer marinade.
2. When ready to assemble parcels, blanch the cabbage leaves in a large saucepan of boiling water and refresh under cold water. Drain and set aside.
3. Take one cabbage leaf and lay it with the stalk end closest to you. Be careful not to tear the leaves. Place a spoon of filling in the middle. Roll the bottom end up first to cover the filling then bring the two sides in to form a pocket. Finally wrap the remaining flap over to close and seal.
4. Place the parcel seam-side down on a steaming tray or bamboo steamer. I use the trays from my steam oven.
5. Continue until all filling has been wrapped.

6. Steam for 25-30 minutes or until meat is thoroughly cooked. Cut one in half to check.

7. Serve as an appetiser sprinkled with chili flakes and alongside a small bowl of extra coconut aminos for dipping, or as a main with some cauliflower rice or steamed veg. These are also immensely portable for picnics.