I first contemplated making this recipe a year or even more ago, but for one reason or another never got to it. However, it has been playing on my mind (does anyone else get recipes nagging at them?), and last week seemed a great time to give it a whirl as a light weeknight dinner. I thought it might have been a bit tricky or fiddly, because it looks so smart. But it isn't. I was also worried that the kids might not like it, but they really enjoyed it (although they did peel a lot of the cabbage off their parcels). And unlike most Asian dishes, there was nearly no knife work - the food processor does it all.
The recipe comes from "Jamie's Kitchen" by Jamie Oliver, the book he wrote as part of the launch of Fifteen. There are lots of fresh and simple ideas in it. Jamie explains that the famous Jools (his missus) craved these when she was pregnant. I love hearing those little details - for me, it gives a cookbook an extra dimension to provide those extra details - must be why I love food blogs so much. I would definitely make these again - possibly as deliciously different finger food for a party, since it is that season.
Chinese Chicken Parcels
adapted from "Jamie's Kitchen" by Jamie Oliver
1 Chinese cabbage (wombok) or savoy cabbage
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed
1 handful of fresh coriander
1-2 fresh red chillies (if you don't want it to be too spicy, seed the chillies)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 trimmed boneless chicken thighs, skin removed, roughly chopped
1 handful of water chestnuts
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sweet chilli sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Remove and discard the core and outer leaves from the cabbage, undo the remaining cabbage leaves and place them in a pan of salted boiling water for 2 minutes to soften. Cool them in a bowl of cold water, drain and put to one side.
In a food processor, whiz up your garlic, ginger, spring onions, coriander, chilli and fish sauce with a good pinch of salt. Then add the chicken, lime zest and juice and sesame oil and pulse until you have a minced meat consistency. Finally add the water chestnuts and pulse a little to combine, but not too much so they add a little texture to your rolls.
Place a heaped dessertspoonful of the flavoured mince on to one end of each cabbage leaf. Fold it up and tuck in the sides, then roll up. Spray a bamboo steamer, colander or normal steamer with a little olive oil and place in the cabbage parcels, tucking the loose end underneath. When they're all in, sit the steamer over a pan of boiling water, making sure the water doesn't touch the parcels and that it's just the steam that's cooking them. Put a lid on top and steam for about 6 minutes until cooked. If you're worried about the cooking time, take one of the parcels out and cut it in half to make sure that the heat has penetrated and that they're cooked.
Serve with rice and some sauteed asian greens eg bok choy.