Napa Cabbage Pockets with Tofu

Stuffed with a medley of shiitake mushrooms, Chinese chives, and dried mung beans, these cabbage pockets are symbols of good fortune.

Napa Cabbage Pockets with Tofu

Charissa Fay / Food Styling by Nora Singley / Prop Styling by Maeve Sheridan

Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs
5 servings

During Chinese New Year, children and younger members of the family who have not yet married receive hong bao (red pockets) containing money, which represent the love of the family, as well as a wish for good fortune and wealth in the coming year. Stuffed cabbage pockets resemble red pockets and, and are traditionally eaten to ensure good fortune. Chef Zoey Xinyi Gong’s refreshing and savory stuffed cabbage pockets are filled with shiitake mushrooms, Chinese chives, and crisp mung beans — ingredients that in traditional Chinese medicine are also believed to hydrate and clarify skin and reduce inflammation caused by alcohol and heavy winter foods.

Chinese chives can be found at most Asian grocery stores. Coix seeds, also known as Job’s tears, are a grain resembling barley and may be found at most Asian grocery stores or online at, along with mung beans.


  • 3 tablespoons coix seeds (about 1 1/3 ounces)

  • 1 tablespoon dried mung beans (about 1/2 ounce)

  • 1 large (3-pound) head napa cabbage

  • 20 stems fresh Chinese chives (jiu cai)

  • 8 ounces firm tofu (from 1 [14-ounce] package)

  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh shiitake mushroom caps (from about 1 1/4 cups whole mushrooms)

  • 1/2 cup matchstick-cut (2- x 1/4- x 1/4-inch sticks) zucchini (from 1 small zucchini)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds

  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 tablespoon goji berries


  1. Rinse coix seeds and mung beans together in a fine wire-mesh strainer; drain and transfer to a small saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high. Boil, stirring once or twice during cooking, until softened, about 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. Separate cabbage leaves by picking through leaves and removing 10 of the largest unbroken leaves from core; set aside. Discard remaining leaves, or reserve for another use. Using a knife, remove and discard bottom 2 inches of each leaf (closest to the root end).

  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Fill a large pot with water, and bring to a boil over high. Gently lower trimmed cabbage leaves and Chinese chives into boiling water; cook until softened, pliable, and bright green but not falling apart, about 1 minute. Using tongs, transfer leaves and chives to ice water. Let stand until cool, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer from ice water to paper towels to drain.

  4. Place tofu on a paper towel–lined plate or baking sheet. Place more paper towels on top of tofu, and press with hands to remove some excess liquid from tofu. Crumble tofu into small pieces into a large bowl. Add cooked coix seeds and mung beans, mushrooms, zucchini, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, sesame seeds, and sesame oil; stir to combine.

  5. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add tofu mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to brown and excess water has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and goji berries.

  6. Lay 1 drained cabbage leaf flat on a clean work surface. Place 3 tablespoons tofu filling in a mounded oval running crosswise across center of leaf. Tuck sides of leaf in and over filling; starting at bottom of leaf, roll up burrito-style. Place rolled cabbage leaf seam side down. Using 2 blanched Chinese chive stems, tie rolled cabbage pocket both lengthwise and crosswise, with the knots on the top of the cabbage pocket, as if you are tying a ribbon. Repeat with remaining cabbage leaves, tofu filling, and Chinese chive stems.

  7. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add half of the tied cabbage pockets to skillet; cook until browned on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes, flipping halfway through cook time. If needed, add a splash of water to the skillet to prevent burning or sticking. Remove cooked cabbage pockets from skillet; let cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Repeat cooking process with remaining cabbage pockets. Serve warm.

To Make Ahead

Cabbage pockets can be made through step 6 up to 1 day in advance and stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes before proceeding with step 7.

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