Prep 35 mins
Cook 3 hrs
This takes a lot of time, and a fair amount of effort, but the result is one of the best cooked cabbage dishes imaginable: tender, pleasantly salty, and quite filling. It's based on a recipe from a 1914 Asian-American cookbook. The borscht is our own twist; it uses up the excess stuffing that won't fit in the cabbage.
- Boil the pork 1 hour, then cut off the rind and chop the edible meat into small pieces.
- Thoroughly wash the cabbage. (The original recipe suggests soaking it in brine, but it's probably safe to skip that step.).
- Use a knife to hollow out the cabbage. Make the cavity as large as possible, without piercing the outer leaves. Save what you cut out.
- Set a large pot of water to boil. While it is heating up, mix the chopped pork with the onion and sesame seeds.
- Stuff the cabbage with as much of the pork mixture as will fit, and cover the hole with one or two cabbage leaves.
- Tie the cabbage tightly in cheesecloth and lower into the boiling water. Set a timer for two hours; keep the cabbage at a low boil the entire time, turning it occasionally.
- Combine the remaining stuffing and excess cabbage in another pot, and add enough water to cover twice over. Add one extra-large bouillon cube (or two regular ones), two tablespoons soy sauce, and one tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet (browning sauce), bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Continue to simmer.
- When about half an hour is left on the timer, add the canned beets (including their liquid) to the soup.
- In a saucepan, heat 1 cup of soy sauce. Just before the timer goes off, increase heat to bring the soy sauce to a boil.
- To serve the cabbage, remove it from its pot and drain it a bit in a colander, then put it in a large bowl and cut away the cheesecloth. Pour the boiled soy sauce over it.
- Top the borscht with sour cream just before serving, or have some on the table so each person can add his own.