Turning Japanese – Global Wanderings in My Kitchen

I visited Japan a few times years ago, and really loved how they did Sukiyaki, Teppanyaki & Yakitori. I’d travelled there several times with my husband, David, and once on business. I persuaded our Japanese minder for the business trip to drop the fancy hotel restaurants and instead suggested that we head out on a crawl of Kyoto’s Yakitori & Sushi bars. My Australian travelling mates loved it.

Although I love cooking, Japanese is not my specialty at home – David & our daughter, Kat, do most of the Japanese. In fact Sukiyaki became one of David’s signature dishes, along with Gado Gado & Saganaki. He’s relying mostly on memory of Sukiyaki restaurant dishes from his two visits to Japan with a bit of help from the Complete Asian Cookbook.

We loved going to the Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant in Surfer’s Paradise on Queensland’s Gold Coast. And of course in Wollongong, there’s the Fuji Yama Tepan Restaurant, the ever popular Roppongi (bookings essential) and more recently Moon’s in the northern suburb of Woonona.

Kat, has been studying Japanese for about 6 years & acquired a taste for Japanese food, especially Sushi & Sushi Train restaurants. She’s often helped out at the Japanese food stall at her school’s annual Great Fete. 

When not nibbling on Pocky, Kat often snacks on Nori (dried seaweed sheets) and suddenly we find there’s none left for the Sushi

Fortunately David is also a Sushi-maker, with a Sushi mat & all the ingredients – now available from all our local supermarkets – so he teams up with Kat for Sushi-making, for those “bring a plate” functions.

Last year Kat spent a few weeks in Japan on a school excursion, which included a Japanese cooking lesson where they learnt how to make Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancakes. We are also expecting to host a Japanese exchange student in March 2010 – so we may learn more about Japanese foods.

Recently @mqtodd tweeted about a great blog post on Japanese food : 10 Cool Japanese Foods. My favourite Japanese Food Blog would have to be Shiuoka Gourmet – the cycling gourmet – here’s my fav post – and I really love his Bento Box postings too.

But of course there are now others blogging about Japanese food in the English language : 

I actually only have one Japanese cookery book – plus my copy of the Complete Asian Cookbook does have a reasonable Japanese section. Fortunately I have collected many cuttings from magazines, all now carefully filed in the Japanese section of my Asian folders :

  • Chicken Yakitori
  • Curries – Japan style
  • Donburi
  • Gyoza
  • Hotpot – Japan style
  • Miso Soup
  • Okonomiyaki – Japanese Pancakes
  • Ponzu Chicken
  • Rice based dishes with chicken or vegetarian
  • Salads – Japan style
  • Sukiyaki
  • Sushi & Temaki
  • Soba & Udon Noodles
  • Tempura
  • Teppanyaki
  • Teriyaki Beef, Chicken, Fish, Pork, Prawns  etc etc
  • Tonkatsu

And of course Taste, my fav Australian foodie site, features an extensive Japanese collection


Golabki Golubsty Krautwickel Toltott Kaposzta Sarma – Slow Food Saturday



Method (serves 6-8)

  • 6-12 large cabbage leaves – red or green – depending on preference – steamed for about 5 minutes then cooled – need to be tender enough to roll but not too soft either
  • 500 gm pork & veal mince
  • 1 rasher of bacon chopped – optional
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 6 spring onions sliced finely
  • 1 445 can tomato soup – Heinz “Big Red Spicy Tomato” is best – but will need to add water during cooking to prevent dryout & burning – alternatively add 1 can passata/sugo with 4 tbspns tomato paste if Spicy Tomato is not available
  • 1 tbspn lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • shake each of sweet paprika, marjoram, caraway seeds & dried parsley
  • toothpicks
  • water – if needed during the baking to prevent dryout
  • dill
  1. Combine all ingredients except cabbage leaves, lemon juice, bay leaf, dill  & tomato soup – mix well – I use my hands to get it all mixed up nicely.
  2. Take 1/3 cupful’s or amount to fit neatly into each cabbage leaf when rolled up – roll up – secure with toothpick(s)
  3. Place the smaller cooked unused cabbage leaves in base of greased casserole dish
  4. Pack cabbage rolls in layers on top of cabbage leaves- place any unused cooked leaves on top
  5. Add tomato soup (or passata/sugo with the tomato paste)  to top carefully & then sprinkle in lemon juice
  6. Cover & place in oven set at 180oC – cook for 1 – 1/2 hours
  7. After first 20-30 minutes – check to see if too dry – add the water if necessary – spoon sauce over cabbage rolls
  8. Repeat after 60 minutes.
  9. Can be served sprinkled with dill & crusty bread – we had Ciabatta.

And lots of leftovers for those frantic after work dinners next week – will probably need to add 1/2 tbpsn of water or so during the reheating as the cabbage rolls do absorb the moisture with time in the fridge.


Years ago my sister Julie Lock Lee shared with me this recipe for microwaved German Cabbage Rolls – it has long been one my other fav cabbage roll recipes.

German Cabbage Rolls – from Julie Lock Lee

  1. Place intact 8 big cabbage leaves in a large baking dish – add 1/2 cup water
  2. Microwave on full power for 4-5 minutes then drain & cool & pat dry
  3. Combine & mix together well : 500 gm mince, 1 cup rice,  small chopped onion, 1 beaten egg, 1/4 cup tomato puree, 1 tbspn lemon juice, 1 tbspn chopped parsley, salt & pepper
  4. Shape into 8 rolls
  5. Place rolls on base of each cabbage leaf, fold sides of leaf over filling & roll up
  6. Place rolls seam side down in a large oblong baking dish – pregreased of course
  7. Combine 440 gm can sauerkraut (undrained), 440 gm can tomato puree, 2 tbspns brown sugar, 1 thinly sliced carrot & 2-3 tbspns lemon juice.
  8. Pour sauce over rolls & cover the baking dish
  9. Microwave covered on Medium-High for 30 minutes – note this was for a 600-650 Watt Microwave so caution should be used with this time for more modern higher watt microwave ovens
  10. Remove dish from Microwave oven & stand for 5-8 minutes before serving.

Serves 6


A further Google search revealed only a cery few examples of red cabbage rolls – Golabki style – although it would appear to be possibly an improv like mine.

Perhaps I might just keep on using the red cabbage leaves in future.