Niños Envueltos – now THAT is a name for a dish. Niños Envueltos literally means “Wrapped Children”. Why? I don’t know. It is one of those things I have no reasonable explanation for. The one thing I do know is that these cabbage rollups are delicious. It is like the Ecuadorian version of a spring roll. And it goes really good dipped in sambal olek. ¡Olé-k!
When I was little and my nana used to make niños envueltos, I wasn’t fond of the cabbage leaf of course. I mean, are you surprised? You already know how much I hated vegetables growing up. I used to open up the cabbage roll, eat all the contents and leave the cabbage leaf on the plate. I don’t do that now. I love food in edible containers.
Making the niños envueltos is very easy. The one thing we really need to focus here is on getting some good, large and whole cabbage leaves. My cabbage, unfortunately was rather on the small side, so I had quite a bit of filling leftover. To prep the leaves, remove the hardest part of the vein in the leaves by making an inverted “V” incision at the bottom of each leaf. To make them pliable, blanche them in hot water for a couple of minutes. The filling is really easy and it is made from a combination of ground beef and pork (but you are more than welcome to use ground turkey or veal, or any other ground meat of your choice), cooked in a mirepoix mixture (celery, carrots and onions), plus some green onions and some cilantro. I like serving it with some Sriracha or some sambal olek, just like I do with my spring rolls. Let’s channel our inner Hansel and Gretel witch character, and prep the children so we can wrap ’em and eat ’em.