Cookbook Challenge: Week 39, TV Chef

Chicken & cabbage parcels

Chinese chicken parcels
From: Jamie’s Kitchen

The theme for this week’s Cookbook Challenge is “TV Chef”. Weeks like this are great because they’re so easy! I could have gone with Rick Stein, Maggie Beer, Bill Granger…. but in the end I decided to go with the Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver.

Time for a bit of a rant. I was making these last night when my parents called. They have a knack of calling right when I’m in the middle of making dinner. And last night as I was preparing dinner, I was juggling about several things – as you do. I had a frying pan heating up, the steamer was bubbling away, I had the cabbage and chicken mixture out (ready for rolling), and I was in the laundry starting off a load of washing… then mum and dad called. GAH. We don’t normally talk for more than ten minutes, so I tried to talk while simultaneously doing everything else. But it wasn’t just chit chat, they wanted to talk about the details of our holiday in September, and I couldn’t remember the exact dates that they were asking about. And seriously, if I had to turn on the computer to get the details AND cook AND do washing AND think in Chinese, I think my head would have exploded!

Eventually the phone cut off, and since we were nearing the end of our conversation, they didn’t call back. Thank goodness – I could focus on making dinner again! I love my parents, but how on earth do they manage to always call while I’m cooking??

Chicken & cabbage parcels

Right, anyway – food! In Jamie’s Kitchen, he calls these “Chinese chicken parcels” but personally I would have just called them steamed chicken and cabbage parcels. The parcels are made with a mixture of seasoned chicken rolled in softened cabbage leaves, which are then steamed until the meat is cooked. The chicken is seasoned with garlic, ginger, spring onions, fresh coriander, fresh chillies, fish sauce, lime zest and juice, and sesame oil. It sounds like a lot of stuff, but it’s all thrown into a food processor so the parcels are actually quite easy to prepare. Unless you’re on the phone at the time!

I didn’t have any limes, so I substituted with lemons, and in hindsight I should have left them out entirely. It wasn’t bad with the lemon juice, but it would’ve been nicer without the sourness. I also didn’t have any water chestnuts, so I left them out as well, but I didn’t miss them.

They were good, and it was a pretty healthy dinner, especially since we ate them with rice and tofu. I reckon I’ll make different versions of these again. I don’t think I’ll follow this recipe next time and will just throw in whatever I have at hand. I was also thinking that it would be easy to make them vegetarian by substituting well drained firm tofu for the chicken and leaving out the fish sauce.

Oh and Jamie suggests serving these with sweet chilli sauce. But… ick… I couldn’t even bring myself to type it into the recipe below…

See previous Cookbook Challenge posts here.

Chicken & cabbage parcels

Chinese chicken parcels

From: Jamie’s Kitchen

Serves 4

1 Savoy or Chinese cabbage
sea salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1 bunch of spring onions, trimmed
a handful of fresh coriander
1-2 fresh red 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
soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Prepare the cabbage leaves by removing and discarding the core and outer leaves. Undo the remaining leaves, keeping them as whole as possible, and place them in the boiling water for 2 minutes to soften. Remove and place into a bowl of cold water, then drain and set aside.

In a food processor, add about a teaspoon of salt, the garlic, ginger, spring onions, coriander, chilli and fish sauce. Pulse briefly to chop everything up. Add the chicken, water chestnuts, lime zest, lime juice and sesame oil and pulse until it’s roughly minced.

Place a heaped tablespoon of the mince on to the end of a cabbage leaf. Fold it over, tuck in the sides, and roll it up. Repeat with the rest of the leaves and mixture.

Place the cabbage rolls into a steamer, place the lid on, and steam for about 6-10 minutes. To check if they are cooked, cut one of the rolls in half.

Sprinkle the rolls with the toasted sesame seeds and serve with soy sauce or chilli sauce.