As soon as I heard the ingredients for this recipe my mind jumped right to my Aunt Ettie’s stuffed cabbage dinner. It was always so amazing and I thought to myself, “I wonder, since Bok Choy is a chinese cabbage if it would transform as easily as regular cabbage?” And, figured I could easily substitute the pork for beef, and the cherries for the raisins and rice was in the recipe anyway.
So, I did it and everything seemed ok until I steamed the bok choy to make the leaves more pliable. OMG, did it reek. It was concerning – the smell was acrid and I was wondering if it would leave a bitter taste in the mouth when finally eaten. I figured I’d need to sweeten up the tomato base so added a bit more sugar than normal and after a long cooking time, it turned out great and no longer became an issue.
My husband said, “it was fine, tasty” and my daughter said “I liked the cabbage but I thought the meatball inside had a weird feeling and didn’t really taste like anything.” I agreed – the ground pork makes it more dense than ground beef would and had an odd consistency. I figured the meatball itself could have had more zing – maybe more cherries or salt possibly. But for me, the sweetened tomato sauce was lick the plate good (I added cherries to that as well) and the bok choy wrapping was my favorite. It didn’t fall apart, was meaty and ended up being a great addition to the dish – so without any further ado, here’s the recipe to the best of my ability.
Old World Stuffed “Cabbage” (Galumpkis)
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions) (and nother 1/2 cup for filling)
- 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes and their juice
- 3 tbs white wine vinegar
- 3 tbs white sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped pittied cherries (and another half more to throw into the sauce)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 baby bok choy bulbs, which I steamed and then cut off the ends and cooled under running water
- 1 lb or 1.5 lbs ground pork
- 1 cup pre-cooked rice - cook half time - not until completely done
- one egg
- Cooked pasta (completely optional)
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onions, and cook over medium-low heat for about 5-8 minutes, until the onions are softened. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, 1/2 cup chopped cherries, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer while you get the galumpkis ready, stir occasionally.
Cook the rice according to package directions but only half time. If it says 20 minutes, cook for 10, then cool before using.
In a bowl, mix pork, egg, 1/2 cup cherries, rice, about 1/2 cup raw chopped onions. Salt and pepper. Then make into little meatballs, roll out each bok choy, place meatball on the top end and roll to close (grab sides to put underneath to close into a little pocket). If it's a small leaf, use a small meatball. Then gently place each ball into the tomato sauce. If it gets crowded, just keep adding them, they'll eventually sink. :) My aunt and mom used to use toothpicks to close them up, but frankly, I really hated finding those toothpicks in the sauce and sometimes biting into a huge galumpkis with a toothpick still in it - so my advice? Leave them out - if it falls apart, oh well.
Cook under a low flame, low simmer for at least 1.5 hours but I'd suggest 2 or 2.5. I believe the more this cooks, the tastier and sweeter it gets and it gives the bok choy time to mellow. Try not to let it boil and burn.
Suggestion - we actually served this over pasta. It makes a great tomato sauce and the galumpkis is just like a meatball! Enjoy!