Kale has had its fifteen minutes. For a while there it seemed you could find kale in juices, in soups, on the side of french filet of sole and even ground up into paper. Now that were in the middle of the third wave of this post 9/11 health craze, kale has fallen to the wayside. Especially normal, garden variety curly kale. It’s been replaced with the better tasting and prettier tuscan kale and dinosaur kale and new green super foods like purslane, collard greens and mustard greens. Every once in a while I return to the leafy, unweildy curly vareity because I can’t find tuscan kale. Thus was the case last week when my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box came with a massive bushel of the stuff.
So, I called in the big guns, the Middle Eastern master of vegetables himself: Yotam Ottolenghi. I now own 3 of his cookbooks (thanks Kevin!!!) and have yet to be disappointed. I’ve made his chickpea salad, his labneh (strained yogurt dip), sweet potatoes and figs and his roasted eggplant. In his new book, Plenty More, I found an interesting kale recipe that called for something I’d never heard of: kecip manis.
When I encounter an exotic ingredient I get a little too excited. It took a lot of self control not to run out the door and head for chinatown to track down a bottle. Kecip manis is an Indonesian soy sauce made with cane sugar. This addition makes it thicker and sweeter. I’m only speculating here and repeating what I’ve read because I’m ashamed to say I’ve never actually had kecip manis. A quick search led me to realize that kecip manis could be mimicked by thickening soy sauce with sugar, so that’s exactly what I did. My version is by no means authentic but the end result was incredible so I’ll share my recipe. You can find kecip manis online for under three dollars. Ottolenghi’s original recipe calls for fried shallots but I didn’t have any on hand. Red onions often work as a substitute for shallots. Shallots have a sharper flavor and red onions are a lot sweeter, which worked perfectly in this recipe.
Makes about 2 tablespoons
You will need
5 tablespoon good quality light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1. In a small sauce pot over medium heat, combine the soy sauce and sugar.
2. Stir frequently until the sauce starts to bubble, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens to a teriyaki-like consistency. Use immediately.
Braised Kale with Fried Onion
Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More
Makes about 2 large servings
You will need:
1 large bunch kale, stems removed and shredded
2 tablespoon kecip manis
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1. Bring 6 cups of water to boil and blanch the kale for 4 minutes. Remove and set aside to dry.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown the garlic. Add the kale to the pan along with the kecip manis and sesame oil and cook for 3-5 minutes. Then add sesame seeds and remove from heat.
4. In a small bowl, combine the red onions and flour. Heat the grape seed oil in a small nonstick pan over high heat and fry the coated red onions. Use kitchen tongs to remove them when they start to brown to a paper towel lined plate. Fry in batches.
5. Plate the kale and sprinkle the fried onions on top.
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