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Broth and Stuffed Cabbage

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Serves: 4
Ingredients:

10 Chinese leaves or Savoy cabbage leaves, halved, main ribs removed
4 spring onions, green tops left whole, white part chopped
5 or 6 dried cloud ears (wood ears), soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
115g / 4 oz minced (ground) pork
115g / 4 oz prawns (shrimp), shelled, deveined and finely chopped
1 Thai chilli, seeded and chopped
30ml / 2 tbsp nuoc mam
15ml / 1 tbsp soy sauce
4cm / 1 1/2 inch fresh root ginger, peeled and very finely sliced
chopped fresh coriander, to garnish

For the stock
1 meaty chicken carcass
2 onions, peeled and quartered
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4cm / 1 1/2 inch fresh root ginger, chopped
30ml / 2 tbsp nuoc mam
30ml / 2 tbsp soy sauce
6 black peppercorns
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
sea salt

Method:

To make the stock, put the chicken carcass into a deep pan. Add the other stock ingredients and cover with water. Bring to the boil, skim off any foam, then reduce the heat and simmer gently with the lid on for 1 1/2-2 hours. Remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes to reduce the stock. Skim off any fat, then strain the stock and measure out 1.5 litres / 2 1/2 pints.

Blanch the cabbage leaves in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and refresh under cold water. Add the green tops of the spring onions to the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute, then drain and refresh under cold water. Tear each piece into five thin strips and set aside.

Squeeze the cloud ear dry, then trim and finely chop and mix with the pork, prawns, spring onion whites, chilli, nuoc mam and soy sauce. Lay a cabbage leaf flat and put a teaspoon of the filling 1cm / 1/2 in from the bottom edge. Fold the edge over the filling, then fold in the sides. Roll all the way to the top of the leaf to form a tight bundle. Tie a piece of blanched spring onion green around the bundle. Repeat with the remaining leaves and filling.

Bring the stock to the boil in a wok or deep pan. Stir in the finely sliced ginger, then reduce the heat and drop in the cabbage bundles. Bubble very gently over a medium heat for about 20 minutes to ensure that the filling is thoroughly cooked. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh coriander leaves.


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