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FOX's "Next Level Chef" co-host Nyesha Arrington puts a fun, beautiful and tasty twist on stuffed cabbage. She makes Asian-spiced chicken meatballs, wraps them in Chinese cabbage leaves with a layer of flavored rice and serves them in a light broth. As Rach says, the dish is next level: "Layers of flavor, so healthy, so delicious—amazing!" 

Pro Tip: Chinese five-spice powder is a combo of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and Sichuan peppercorns used often in stir fries, noodle and rice dishes and stews, as well as in marinades and dry rubs. It lends a distinctive warmth and beguiling flavor. You can buy five-spice powder or make it yourself, which allows you to vary the amount of each ingredient to your liking. 

For more meatball inspiration, check out Carla Hall's Chicken Tortilla Meatballs and Cheese Stuffed Swedish Meatballs.  


For the Meatballs:
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup medium-firm tofu
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 pound ground chicken thighs
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 18 to 20 Chinese or savoy cabbage leaves, blanched
For the Shiitake Rice Mixture:
  • 2 cups glutinous rice, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup small-dice shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 5 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
To Serve:
  • Light broth of choice, such as chicken broth, hot
  • Sliced scallions


Serves: 6 to 8


For the meatballs, preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.  

Place the tofu in a microwave on high heat for 3 minutes. Drain off all the excess water and set aside to cool. 

In a large bowl, add the ground chicken breast, ground chicken thighs, panko, sesame oil, scallions, garlic, ginger, beaten eggs, soy sauce, five-spice powder, salt and black pepper to taste. Mix until well incorporated, fold in the tofu and chill for about 20 minutes. 

Roll the meat mixture into 2-inch balls and place on the prepared baking sheet. (You should end up with 18 to 20 meatballs.) Bake until cooked through, about 16 minutes, then set aside.  

While the meatballs cook, prepare the rice mixture. Place a metal colander inside a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a lid. 

Add enough water to reach just below the bottom of the colander. Put the colander in the sink, drain the soaked rice into it, then put the rice-filled colander back inside the pot.  

Bring the water in the pot to a simmer over medium heat, then cover the pot with a lid and reduce the heat to maintain a low, steady simmer. Steam the rice, covered, for about 12 minutes. 

Using a rubber spatula, fold the rice over itself to make sure it cooks evenly.  

Place the lid back on and continue steaming for about 12 minutes more. The individual grains should be firm and hold together. Remove from the heat and set aside. 

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, saute the mushrooms in the butter for about 6 minutes, then transfer to a plate and set aside. In the same pan, sweat the shallots for about 5 minutes, then add the ginger and cook for about 2 minutes. Deglaze with the wine and finish with the sesame oil. Fold into the cooked rice with the mushrooms and season with salt to taste.  

Heat some water in a large bamboo steamer or large pot with a steamer insert. 

Meanwhile, to assemble, place a blanched cabbage leaf on a large piece of plastic wrap. Place a small portion of the rice mixture in the center of the cabbage. Place one meatball in the center of the rice and gather everything to form a small round bundle. Tie the plastic wrap into a knot, cut of the excess wrap and repeat with the remaining ingredients. 

Steam the bundles, in batches if needed, until heated through, about 3 minutes.  

Unwrap the bundles and serve about 2 to 3 per person in broth garnished with scallions.