I really didn’t intend to go Russian again after last week’s Carrot Candy. But, this week, I wasn’t in the mood to shop. The package of unseasoned fresh ground pork in the refrigerator needed to be used. I pulled out the Flavor Bible and began checking my fridge and pantry for ingredients.
It started with the red cabbage. How could I combine ground pork and red cabbage? What flavor profile did it remind me of? German? I scanned my spices and my eyes fell upon Tsardust Memories. Eureka! Those of you who are fortunate, as I, to have a Penzey’s Spices in your town, or have discovered them online, will know what I’m talking about. For the rest of you, yes that is the name of a spice blend. It was originally called Russian Sausage Seasoning. Tsardust Memories has a better ring, don’t you think? It’s a spicy, sweet, and savory blend of salt, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, & marjoram.
I decided that red cabbage, and Tsardust must be the basis for my dish this week. So now what? I had rice and spring roll wrappers in the pantry. Do Russians make spring rolls? Do Russians, for that matter, use much rice? What the heck. Russian/Asian Fusion it will be.
For the pork/rice filling:
1 c water
¾ c white rice
2T olive oil
¾ c finely diced ONION
¾ c finely diced celery
2 cloves GARLIC, finely minced
¾ lb fresh ground, unseasoned pork
1½ t Tsardust Memories
Salt & *PEPPER to taste
Cook the rice in water and set aside.
Saute onions, celery & garlic in olive oil until softened but not carmelized.
Add pork, salt & pepper, sauté until just past pink, breaking meat into fine crumbles as it cooks.
Drain remaining cooking liquids and reserve.
Mix Tzardust Memories into rice & add to pork mixture. Set aside.
For the cabbage:
Reserved cooking liquid from pork
1 c good dry red wine
1 medium head red cabbage shredded.
1½ t Tsardust Memories
Combine all ingredients in heavy pan
Cook over medium-high heat until cabbage begins to soften and wilt.
Turn heat to medium-low, cover, and continue cooking for at least an hour, stirring occasionally, until cabbage cooks down to a very soft state and all the liquid has been absorbed.
At this point, you can immediately begin to assemble your spring rolls, or if you like, you can refrigerate the pork/rice filling and the cooked cabbage separately for up to two days for future use.
For spring rolls:
24 pieces of parchment cut to 1½” by 3” size.
24 spring roll wrappers
24 long sprigs of chive, additional chive.
Cooked red cabbage
Soak spring roll wrappers one at a time in warm water until soft.
Put a tablespoon of cabbage in the middle of wrapper.
Top cabbage with another heaping tablespoon pork/rice mixture.
Add a few small cuttings of chive.
Fold one side over top. Then fold in each end, tightening into a smooth roll. Finally finish rolling over the last side.
Technically these aren't tight enough to be spring rolls. They are more like little packages. So, with cabbage side up, tie a chive around the middle making a knot on top.
Place completed spring rolls on parchment in bamboo steamer being very careful not to let them touch each other or the side of the steamer.
Place steamer in wok with boiling water. Steam for about 5 minutes and serve either warm or room temperature.
As strange as it sounds, this one rates an absolute HOME RUN. I love them, and will make them again soon. I took them to the store and was very surprised at how many people really enjoyed them.