Shrimp, leek and lime-stuffed cabbage dumplings

DSC_3487If you want to break out of the routine and try something a little different, this is the recipe for you. The lime broth really lightens up these stuffed cabbage dumplings, making it an ideal summer supper.

I love tying up the dumplings like little packages hiding their surprise filling. Don’t be intimidated, you can definitely do it with a little practice. I would not, however, recommend attempting it for the first time on a night you plan to host a 20-guest dinner party.


  • 1 whole poblano pepper, washed
  • 1 head of cabbage (the largest you can find)
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 leeks, washed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into roughly 1/2-inch pieces.
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp lime juice (about 6 limes)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Pepper, to taste


  1. Heat oven to 500°. Wrap the whole poblano (stem and all) in foil and pop in the oven to roast. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the meat is soft and the skin and stem separate easily from the pepper. Once skinned and stemmed, chop it seeds and all and set aside.
  2. Heat a large pot of salted water. Bring it to a full boil.
  3. While it heats, prepare the cabbage. Remove the outermost leaves of the cabbage. Score the base of the cabbage at the core to separate several layers of leaves. Starting from the bottom, gently peel off a single leaf at a time, trying to keep them whole and intact. You’ll want only the largest leaves, so once they decrease in size towards the middle, save the remaining cabbage for another use. You will likely end up with 7-8 large leaves from a good-sized head.DSC_3483
  4. Working in batches, blanch 3-4 leaves at a time in the boiling water, allowing to cook only for 2-3 minutes to soften. Remove from water and drain on paper towels.
  5. Prepare the leeks. For the first leek, chop the pale and light green parts only and set aside.
  6. For the second, cut off the root end and cut the entire leek in half lengthwise. Remove the thickest, outermost parts and cut long thin strips about 1/3-inch wide. These will be your ribbons to tie up your cabbage. I suggest cutting about twice as many strips as you have cabbage leaves.
  7. In a small saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the leeks, garlic and 1 tsp salt until they begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook until their color just begins to turn. Set aside to cool.
  8. Prepare the filling. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 tbsp lime juice, cilantro and zest. Add in the cooled shrimp-leek mixture.
  9. Bring the stock, remaining lime juice and 1/12 tsp salt to a simmer in a large pot.
  10. Lay out the cabbage leaves and put a large spoonful of the filling in the center of each. Fold the edges of the leaves over on themselves to cover the filling. Sit the folded dumpling on a leek strip and tie in a simple knot. Take care not pull too tightly or they will snap. (This is why you cut extra and why you don’t want to attempt this the first time in the presence of dinner guests.)DSC_3489
  11. Using tongs, gently add dumplings two at a time to the simmering broth. Cook for 2-3 minutes and transfer to a bowl. Ladle broth over the dumplings and serve.

Note: The broth may taste too acidic on its own, but once you cut into the dumplings and they spill their contents into the broth, it will be just right.


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