Thursday, July 15, 2010

More on Kale

I received a few questions about kale so I'm going to elaborate a little bit. People seem to be at a loss for new ideas of what to do with it, or any green for that matter. Everyone seems to be be trapped into sauteing it with onions and garlic. So here's what you have to keep in mind to break out of this rut: "greens are cabbage". They can be applied to just about any cabbage preparation that exists around the world. In other other words, consider every member of the group (cabbages) and the different methods used by different cultures to consume it.

  • U.S. - coleslaw, coleslaw, coleslaw (typically regular white cabbage, sometimes daringly accented with red cabbage for color)
  • Southeast U.S. - stewed with onion, vinegar, tomatoes, hot sauce, ham hocks, etc (collards)
  • Europe - Roasted, at times sweetened a little and with nuts (brussels sprouts)
  • Northern Europe - sauerkraut, stuffed, or steeped with Riesling and apples (white cabbage)
  • China/East Asia - Stirfried over very high heat. (choys)
  • Korea - Kimchi (Napa cabbage)

Et cetera et catera. I could go on and on, these examples only brush the surface. I haven't even gotten into other forms of cabbage such as varietals of broccoli and cauliflower (cabbage buds essentially) and kohlrabi and radishes (cabbage roots).

Their interchangeability is not foolproof, but they will more or less act the same in different applications. This is a great methodology to start coming up with ideas - mix and match the above examples, cabbage type to food preparation, and see where it takes you: Bok Choy-sauerkraut, roasted collard greens with maple and pecans, brussels sprout-coleslaw . . . kale-kimchi . . .

Kale Kimchi

- 1 Bunch of any variety of kale (ten good sized leaves) , stalks removed

- 1/4 Cup Korean chili paste (you should be able to find a variation on this at any Asian market)

- 3 inches Fresh Ginger, grated

- 2 cloves fresh garlic, grated

{you can add some cayenne if you like it hot}

  1. In a bowl, combine the chili paste, ginger and garlic
  2. Leaving the leaves in large pieces, give them a sprinkle of salt and a very thorough schmear of the kimchi paste on each side.
  3. Stuff them tightly into a jar, close it, and stick it in the back of your fridge for a few weeks.

This stuff will keep for months. I also added sliced
kohlrabi and radishes because I had them lying around.

Before I wrap up I wanna throw out one more concept; sometimes I spend so much time thinking about what I should do to an ingredient to make it taste better I forget to step back and think about what I shouldn't do.
I'm a fan of kale, and my favorite way to consume it is simply shredded finely with salt, olive oil, lemon, and a little grated cheese on top. It can require a lot of slicing/chopping but it's good practice.

The Easiest Kale Salad

- 5 Kale leaves

- Juice and zest of 1 lemon

- 2-3 tbsps Extra Virgin Olive Oil

- Hard Cheese such as Parmigianno Reggiano, Pecorino or Aged Gouda (as much as you like)

  1. Remove the stems of the kale. Leaving the leaf whole, roll it up as tightly as possible and holding it tight and use a knife to slice it as thinly as you can get it.
  2. Toss the shredded kale in the olive oil and lemon juice and zest. Season it fairly liberally with salt and a crack of black pepper. Let this mellow for a bit, the salt and lemon will break down the kale a bit, making it more pleasant to eat.
  3. Grate some cheese over the top and enjoy.


  1. The Korean chili paste is called gochujang (you can see it in the photo if you click on it). It has the consistency of miso and is a dark, deep red color. Although it's quite red, it's not super hot, unlike, say Sriracha, which is very hot.

    I do have another question, which might be hard to answer. Of the "common" greens out there, what are the differences, e.g. why kale vs cabbage vs. bok choy vs. collard greens. I suppose the answer is to eat it and see how you like it.

  2. This is all written from the standpoint of someone (me) who had kale in their fridge and thought about what to do with it. I didn't necessarily go out and buy it for these purposes. If you are heading to the store, get whatever you like. If you you wanna try something new, try a new cabbage, or the same ol' cabbage cooked in a different way.
    for the cooking method, I think it really boils down to the leaf in question. Some are heartier and require more cooking time (collards/white cabbage), others are delicate enough to use in a salad (young choy/young kale). This is what will change the outcome of the different cooking methods more and more.

  3. Saw you on i am following you Great JOB!

  4. Thanks for giving me something else to try with kale! I belong to a CSA and we get it a lot.

  5. I saw you on Chopped and now I am hooked.

  6. Hi, Joshua,

    Saw your article on recipe writing on HuffPo and now I'm a fan. You're cute, too. I'm adding you to my blogroll. Thought you might enjoy this recipe for Crispy Parmesan Kale Chips - it's the most popular one on my blog: They're the bomb. Try subbing collards, too.

    xo from 90210 Farmgirl

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