Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022

© Drew Lazor

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Cod-stuffed cabbage rolls with dill sauce

A nontraditional north-German pairing of cabbage and fish

The classic northern German pairing of cabbage with fish gets a literal twist here: we are treating the duo nontraditionally, wrapping a seasoned cod cake in cabbage leaves, baking the parcels and then topping them with a mustard-and-cream-thickened pan sauce brightened by fresh dill. This recipe was the result of a day when a line cook accidentally chopped an entire night’s worth of cod into bite-size pieces that was supposed to remain whole!

1 head Savoy cabbage
1½ lb. (600 g) cod fillets
1 tbsp. (15 ml) canola oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c. (250 ml) fine dried bread crumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. (15 ml) finely chopped fresh curly-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. (15 ml) finely chopped fresh dill
salt and freshly ground white pepper
4 tbsp. (60 ml) mild German mustard
2 c. (500 ml) dry white wine
1 c. (250 ml) heavy cream

Fill a large pot half full with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Immerse the cabbage in the boiling water and cook until the outer leaves have loosened and can be peeled off, about 5 minutes. To test, using a wire skimmer, carefully lift out the cabbage head and try to peel away the outer leaves; if they do not come away, return the head to the water for a couple minutes more, then test again. Peel off as many whole leaves as you can easily remove without tearing them. Return the cabbage head to the boiling water and repeat the process until you have six whole leaves. Arrange the leaves, interior-side up, in a single layer on a work surface and let cool completely. Reserve the remaining cabbage for another use.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

Finely chop the cod fillets, discarding any errant bones. Put the fish in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium sauté pan, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Add the cooled onion mixture, bread crumbs, egg, parsley, dill, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt, ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) white pepper and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the mustard to the cod and mix well.

Divide the cod mixture into six equal por¬tions and shape each into a rough log shape. Put a portion about 1 inch (2.5 cm) from the bottom edge of a cabbage leaf, where the stem is the thickest. Lift the edge of the leaf over the filling and then roll up the filling in the leaf, folding in the sides as you roll. Place the roll, seam-side down, in a baking dish just large enough to accommodate all the rolls. Repeat with the remaining cabbage leaves and filling portions. Pour the wine into the dish.

Bake the rolls until a thermometer inserted into the centre of a roll registers 145°F (63°C). Remove the dish from the oven, pour off the liquid into a medium saucepan and cover the rolls in the dish to keep them warm.

Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Whisk in the cream until heated through and lightly thickened, then whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) mustard. Season with salt and white pepper.

Arrange the cabbage rolls on a platter and pour the sauce over the top. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

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