TODAY   |  June 26, 2012

A taste of Sweden: Stuffed cabbage rolls

Chef Marcus Samuelsson, whose new memoir recalls his journey as an Ethiopian-born boy adopted by a Swedish couple, honors his mother by whipping up one of her specialties: cabbage rolls with maple syrup gravy.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back at 8:45, what's for dinner. one chef's journey. he writes about his life and passion for cooking in his new book called "yes, chef, a memoir." good morning to you.

>> i'm excited to be here. today is a big day for me. the book is coming out and i get to cook for you.

>> one of the things about the book, it talks about your life. it starts in the book with you walking 75 miles with your mom and sister, all three of you with tuberculosis. you lose her. you become an orphan, become adopted. you move to sweden by a swedish couple. now you became a world famous chef.

>> yes.

>> how did you in all of this discover your love for cooking?

>> well, you know, that walk, my mother taking me and my sister to the hospital. we got lucky enough to be adopted in sweden . it was in sweden my grandmother taught me how to cook. my mother, wonderful mother, but she did not like to cook. but when she did cook, one of her favorite recipes, cabbage rolls . do you like cabbage rolls ?

>> i've never had them the way you're doing them.

>> lamb, veal, pork mixed up. could be rice. use a thickener.

>> you want to soften them.

>> how long do you keep them in the water.

>> cook them two or three minutes, then put the mixture in the middle, add a little bit of spice. we talk about spices.

>> garlic.

>> garlic and cumin, marjoram and mint.

>> that's interesting.

>> just nice and refreshing.

>> once you've mixed that up. you put that inside of the cabbage roll pieces and roll them up.

>> roll them up.

>> and use toothpicks to keep them together.

>> look like this.

>> this is the way your adopted mom used to make them.

>> she had a fas version as well. it's funny when you say my adopted mom. we just said mom. me and my sister just said mom. our family was so mixed. i have cousins that were korean, my parents were white. me and my sister were black. we're just a mixed family.

>> how did that inform your cooking, do you think?

>> i think i'm lucky enough to have three things, africa, ethiopia, sweden , canadian, new york and harlem. i just feel like add red rooster right now, the scene is really an image of all of those three countries, you know.

>> informed you food as well.

>> yes.

>> your use of spices which i envy because you really know what you're doing with spices. now you put these on the -- you're going to cook them in here.

>> put them on a tray, bake them in oven, put syrup on top. they come out wonderful, beautiful like this. then drizzle sauce on top of this. you know what, we have some already lined up we can take here in the back. back here we've got my grandma helga 's meatballs.

>> helga was the one that got you into cooking.

>> she definitely is the one that got me into cooking. in the book i talk about my first rituals of cooking in helga 's kitchen. could be simple dishes like making meatballs or ginger snap cookies, things like that. that's what helped me to go to kitchens in france, all over europe, switzerland. "yes, chef" talks about the journey. a kitchen can be highly emotional workplaces. for nonchefs it sounds crazy what's going on in the kitchen. for us chefs, all you say back is yes, chef.

>> the name of your memoir. a fascinating look at a life well lived that brought you to such greatness. thank you so much for being with us this morning. i can't wait to attack your food.