• Japanese-style cabbage rolls (Ben Ward)Source: Ben Ward

More common in Eastern European cuisines, cabbage rolls have been adopted by Japan as part of yoshoku – Western food that has become part of the Japanese diet. When I lived in Japan, I ate these frequently at a little coffee shop near my office that only made them once a month, and I've had fond memories of them ever since.






Skill level

Average: 4.1 (52 votes)


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 60 g (1 cup) panko breadcrumbs
  • 125 ml (½ cup) milk
  • 500 g mixed beef and pork mince
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice or nutmeg
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 1 bunch spring onions, green stalks only for tying, optional
  • 25 g butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Tomato sauce

  • 500 ml (2 cups) tomato sugo/passata
  • 250 ml (1 cup) chicken stock or dashi
  • 125 ml (½ cup) white wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 3 bay leaves

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Standing time: 10 minutes

1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat and fry the onion for 4-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely.

2. Combine the panko and milk in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Add the panko mixture to the cooled onions along with the mince, salt, pepper and allspice or nutmeg and mix in one direction until completely combined. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cut the core out of the cabbage and remove any dark green outer leaves. Boil the cabbage whole for about 5 minutes or until a few of the outer leaves can be removed. Remove the leaves and return the cabbage to the pan and boil for a few more minutes or until more of the leaves can be removed. Continue until you have 8 - 9 large leaves. Cut the thick stalks from the base of the leaves.

4. For the tomato sauce, place all the ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan with a lid that will just fit the rolls in a single layer. Stir to combine.

5. Divide the filling into 8 equal portions. Place a cabbage leaf on your work surface and bring the two cut sides of the base together so they slightly overlap. Place a portion of the meat filling on the bottom of the leaf and roll up as you would for a spring roll, tucking in the sides as you go. If you like, you can secure the package with a spring onion stalk. Place the roll, seam-side down in the tomato sauce and repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

6. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the butter on top, then cover the rolls closely with a piece of baking paper and a drop lid (otoshibuta) to keep the rolls from moving, then cover the pan with a lid too. Simmer for 35 minutes, then remove from the heat and stand for 10 minutes. Scatter with parsley to serve.


Adam Liaw visits bushfire-affected communities and creates dishes using their local produce in Adam Liaw's Road Trip for Good.