Stuffed Cabbage Rolls — Sarma

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma

One more old recipe repost because it is winter season, this is comfort food that we love during winter, and you guys kept asking for this recipe. So here is my stuffed cabbage rolls or as we like to call them, Sarma!

As much as this recipe seems complicated, I have to say it is not so much. Maybe because I grew up eating it, and also I believe the first time when I made it was like 20 years ago, so it is very simple for me.

Traditionally, you have to make it with a pickled or fermented whole head of cabbage, which tastes like shredded sauerkraut.

So, it is pickling process that many people in parts of the Balkan or Southeastern Europe prepare a few months in advance to have it ready for the holiday season.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma

What I am showing you today is a much faster version of pickling, and slightly similar to the original and got to say extremely tasty.

If you have already fermented cabbage then you can skip the part where you boil and soak the cabbage in vinegary water with salt.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma

I did not pickle cabbage last fall, so in cases like this when I really crave these rolls I just boil the whole cabbage head in salty- vinegar, water, and under the lid, let it kind of marinade in that boiled hot water for an hour or so.

It becomes a bit tender and slightly sour, but to cut the story short read the recipe with the easy to follow pictures.

When I feel nostalgic this is the version that I am making most of the time because don’t have fermented cabbage all the time or all year round.

This is so delicious and one of my ultimate favorite comfort foods. I know many share the same feeling regarding it because it is loved all over the world.

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma

STEP BY STEP WITH PICTURES:

Wash the cabbage and take the middle root by carving it out. Boil the whole cabbage head by putting it in a large pot, pour over hot boiled water mixed with vinegar and salt. Let it boil again for the next 20 minutes or until the cabbage is softer to the touch

Once the cabbage is softer to the touch, cover it with the lid, turn off the heat and let it sit in a sour and salty hot water for next 20 minutes or until you are ready for the next step. WASH the cabbage after with a cold water to remove some of the brine.

Combine the meat mixture by adding ground beef, Vegeta/seasoning, shredded onion, minced garlic/or garlic powder, ground black pepper, and rice. I always taste to see if I need more seasoning, but meat is always fresh.

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eparate the cabbage leaves and cut the thick root in the back of each leaf because of the easier folding.

Put cabbage leaves in your palm and add about 2 Tbs. Meat mixture (smaller meatball). Look at the picture for the complete instruction. These instructions are important because if you don’t roll and wrap cabbage rolls correctly, they will open, and meat will get out. Once the wrapping is over, go to the next step.

Boil 2 cups of Beef stock + 3 cups of water with 1 Tbs. Vegeta; set aside.

You may like Sauteed Sauerkraut with Smoked Sausage

In a large pot, add a bit of minced onion, olive oil (or any on your hand), place each roll on the bottom of the pot, if you have meat leftovers crumble on the top, shredded sauerkraut, a few garlic cloves, then rest of the cabbage leaves lay on top and over the cabbage rolls, put few slices of bacon or any smoked products, sweet paprika, a bit more chopped garlic and parsley, and about 1/2 tbs. Ground black pepper.

Now that you layer everything correctly, put it on the stove and with previously boiled broth, water, and Vegeta slowly pour over- also liquid needs to go over the cabbage rolls at least an inch-

Turn the heat on high until it boils again, once it’s boiled cover and turn the heat on a medium-low. 10. Let it cook for the next 40 minutes.

NOTE: If you do not want to make them as a sour, just skip adding vinegar and sauerkraut. I added cause it is reminding me of the way people from my country make it.

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma
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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls Sarma

Traditionally made Cabbage Meat Rolls. These rolls are made with fermented cabbage which gives you more of a sour taste, but very delicious. Since we don’t have fermented cabbage, I made my own. 

Course Main Course
Keyword beef, dinner, holidays, lunch,
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
“Ferment” in vinegar & salt 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Author Sandra | Sandra’s Easy Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 head of fresh Cabbage You may use Savoy Cabbage as well
  • 1 cup Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Salt

NOTE: I use vinegar to boil my cabbage because I didn’t have any homemade sour cabbage. This is only if you do not have a whole head of pickled cabbage (Sauerkraut).

Meat filling:

  • 1 lb. Ground Beef
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegeta -European spice OR 2 tbsp. Bouillon Seasoning/Beef seasoning etc. To taste**
  • 1/2 Onion minced or shredded (keep some for later use)
  • 2 Garlic Cloves minced or crushed
  • 1/2 Tbs. Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup Rice soak it in the cold water for 5 min or so before adding it to the mixture

Additional topping:

  • 1 Tbs. Oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. Vegeta or to taste bouillon seasoning or salt
  • 2 cups Shredded Sauerkraut If you have homemade, that’s the best
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • 4-6 sliced Hickory-smoked Bacon or any meat/ sausage that is smoked/or ribs
  • 1/2 Tbs. Sweet Red Paprika
  • 1/3 of cup minced parsley
  • 1/2 Tbs. Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups of stock/broth + water to fill to about 2 inches above it.

Roux:

  • 4 Tbsp. Tomato Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. All-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Wash the cabbage and take the middle root by carving it out. Boil the whole cabbage head by putting it in a large pot, pour over hot boiled water mixed with vinegar and salt. Let it boil again for the next 20 minutes or until the cabbage is softer to the touch

    Once the cabbage is softer to the touch, cover it with the lid, turn off the heat and let it sit in a sour and salty hot water for next 20 minutes or until you are ready for the next step. 

    WASH the cabbage after with cold water to remove some of the brine.

  2. Combine the meat mixture by adding ground beef, Vegeta/seasoning, shredded onion, minced garlic/or garlic powder, ground black pepper, and rice. I always taste to see if I need more seasoning, but meat is always fresh.
  3. Now separate the cabbage leaves and cut the thick root in the back of each leaf because of the easier folding.
  4. Put cabbage leaves in your palm and add one medium size meatball. Don’t pack meatball, make it more lose. Look at the picture for the complete instruction. These instructions are important because if you don’t roll and wrap cabbage rolls correctly, they will open, and meat will get out. Once the wrapping is over, go to the next step.

  5. Boil 2 cups of Beef stock + 3 cups of water with 1 Tbs. Vegeta; set aside. 

    You may. Bouillon Seasoning instead of Vegeta*

  6. In a large pot, add a bit of minced onion, olive oil (or any on your hand), place each roll on the bottom of the pot, if you have meat leftovers crumble on the top, shredded sauerkraut, a few garlic cloves, then rest of the cabbage leaves lay on top and over the cabbage rolls, put few slices of bacon or any smoked products, sweet paprika, a bit more chopped garlic and parsley, and about 1/2 tbs. Ground black pepper.
  7. Now that you layer everything correctly, put it on the stove and with previously boiled broth, water, and Vegeta slowly pour over- also liquid needs to go over the cabbage rolls at least an inch-
  8. Turn the heat on high until it boils again, once it’s boiled cover and turn the heat on a medium-low. 10. Let it cook for the next 40-45 minutes.

  9. After 40-45 minutes (if you need more water it is a good time to add more and boil before you add Roux) Mix 2 Tbs. Of all-purpose flour with 2 Tbs. Of Tomato sauce in a bowl. Combine it well and add about 3 Tbs. Of water. Stir until lumps are gone and you are left with a smooth and thin texture. Pour the Roux little bit at the time, but do not stir, kind of do the moving the pot in a shaky motion just to combine the thin Roux with the liquid to make like a thick sauce. If you can see the lumps in the pot use the wooden spoon to mash it. Add 2 more Tbs. Of tomato sauce for the color and taste.

Recipe Notes

VEGETA is the vegetable-based food seasoning. You can sub it with Bouillon cubes or in powder form. Or simply use salt to taste. • This is quick pickling, which is not the most traditional way, making it but when I crave it and don’t have fermented cabbage heads I do it this way. • When you have fermented Cabbage already: You’d skip the boiling process, and you do not need extra sauerkraut. Also, you’d use less sodium because you have cabbage that was fermenting in salted water for at least a month, so it’s salty. • If you have your own head of fermented cabbage just add the filling, roll and add to the pot or you may bake them. For the baked version, I just add 2 cups of a good quality tomato sauce and a good drizzle of olive oil, cover and let it bubble in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour at the 350F.

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2 thoughts on “Stuffed Cabbage Rolls — Sarma”

  • Turned out awesome & a new respect for cabbage. Nice to try something new.
    My only issue was – I used your method of salt & vinegar for the cabbage head…. it ended up too salty. I’m not one to use salt 2 water ratios at all when you aren’t required to keep the fluid … but this may need it. Mine turned out very salty & I used 1-1/2 whole cabbage heads… I could of left it to “soak” too long … but I wanted that pickle taste… so may half or a 1/4 of the salt recommended because the vegeta has sodium as well. I Also through it in the oven for 5-10 minutes to help thicken/firm up a bit,

    It was fantastic – curious to try this with Italian spices…

    Wonderful addition to our family’s meals

  • Oh, I’m so glad to hear. I need to add or really point it out to wash the cabbage after the salt and vinegar. It will get some off. If you tried store bought sauerkraut then you know how salty it is, so I always wash it with cold water.

    Anyhow, I’ll read it again and see what I can edit. At this point I don’t even measure because i made it so many times haha. Thanks so much for your comment and honest feedback. I really appreciate it!

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