The curly kale in the shops right now is magnificent. Here it is cooked simply but with strong flavours – kecap manis, garlic and sesame oil – to counteract its intense greenness. For texture, sesame seeds are stirred through and crispy onions are layered on top.
It is an Ottolenghi recipe. He has several kale recipes in his books, promoting it a decade or so ago when it wasn’t as popular as it is today.
In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Asian Kale with Sesame and Crispy Shallots
400g kale, stems removed and roughly shredded
1 Tblspn olive oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced thin
2½ Tblspn Kecap Manis (sweet, thick, dark soy sauce – available from Asian shops)
1 tspn sesame oil
1 Tblspn sesame seeds, toasted
150ml sunflower oil
2 Tblspn plain flour
About 10 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced (or use white onions if shallots are not available)
sea salt and black pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the kale, blanch for 4 minutes, and strain.
Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the garlic and cook for two minutes on medium heat, until golden and crisp. Add the kale and stir well. Pour in the kecap manis sauce and sesame oil, cook for a couple of minutes until the kale has softened and any liquid reduced, then remove from the heat and stir through the sesame seeds. Cover the pan with a lid and leave in a warm place.
Heat the sunflower oil in a small saucepan on medium to high heat. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, shallots and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, so the shallots are evenly covered with flour; dust off any excess. Test the oil with one piece of shallot – it should sizzle and rise to the surface immediately. Fry the shallots in two or three batches, each for one to two minutes, until golden and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen towel and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
To serve, arrange the kale on a serving dish and scatter the shallots on top. Serve warm.