Kale with pickled ginger is one of the healthiest and tastiest ways to get a meal packed with iron. I made my own pickled ginger and an Asian-inspired salad dressing with lemongrass, miso and sesame oil. The result is the perfect condiment for boiled kale.
The reason I've been trying to make iron-rich meals lately is that my sister-in-law, Sunny, was diagnosed with iron deficiency. It's a fairly common problem that primarily affects women. She had trouble with the iron pills, so it was suggested to us that we make her foods that are rich in iron. Because of this, I've been trying to cook more with kale.
If you have any suggestions, please do share! Sunny will thank you.
Servings: 6 servings
2-½ pounds fresh kale
1 (8-inch) chunk fresh ginger
2-½ tablespoons superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1-3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
½ cup rice vinegar (or any white vinegar)
1 teaspoon fresh lemongrass purée
1 teaspoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon ponzu soy sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon wasabi paste
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 clove pickled garlic, finely minced
2-½ tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons peanut oil (or regular vegetable oil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
The day before...
For the Asian salad dressing:
In a bowl, dissolve the honey in 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. Add the mustard and wasabi paste. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes until slightly golden. Set aside the garlic and garlic-infused oil separately.
Place the miso paste, lime juice and ¼ cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about less than 2-3 minutes. The liquid should reduce to about a tablespoon of miso. Add the wasabi mixture. Remove from the heat. Add ponzu soy sauce and whisk in the peanut oil and sesame oil immediately while the juice is still hot. Add the pickled garlic and lemongrass. Finish with white pepper.
Making pickled ginger:
Clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon. Cut the ginger into 1/16-inch thick slices, lengthwise, using a mandoline.
Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the long ginger strips on the rack. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel.
Place the superfine sugar and ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the remaining rice vinegar. Allow to cool completely.
Dip the softened ginger into boiling water for 10 seconds, drain and pat dry on a paper towel.
Place the ginger in a small jar. Cover with the rice vinegar mixture. Mix well. The ginger should be tightly packed and coated with the liquid. Let marinate for at least 12 hours.
The following day...
Wash the raw kale thoroughly in several baths. Remove and discard the fibrous and older part of the stems. Boil the kale in about 2 quarts of salted boiling water. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until tender, depending on how young the plant is. Check doneness by tasting the thickest center vein; it should be soft and tender. Drain and immediately transfer the greens into a cold water bath. Pat dry on a towel. Roughly chop the kale leaves. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside.
Serve all the ingredients at room temperature. Finely slice the pickled ginger. Gather about 2-3 tablespoons of pickled ginger and add it to the kale. Add the reserved fried garlic and drizzle with the Asian inspired vinaigrette.
Serve at room temperature.
If you don't have kale on hand, you could use any other greens such as collard greens, mustard greens, cabbage, bok choy, spinach, Chinese cabbage, choy sum, sugar snap peas or broccoli.
I just bought a very sharp plastic mandoline at a Korean store that was very inexpensive compared to the ones you find online. If you don't own one, you can use a sharp chef's knife or a vegetable peeler.
For the lemongrass purée: Wash the lemongrass. Remove all the white powder from the leaves. Cut the stalk in half, discarding the younger part (reserve it for making broth). Cut the remaining stalk into extremely thin slices using a sharp chef's knife. In a mortar and pestle, grind the thin slices of lemongrass, then transfer and mix everything using a mini food processor. It should turn into a fine, moist powder. Set aside.
I buy white miso paste (shiro miso) at the Korean store. It's less salty than regular miso and it has a very smooth texture.
I buy lemongrass at an Asian market. It's less expensive than in regular stores and is sold by bulk in bunches of 5 stalks. So plan other dishes using lemongrass. It's a perennial. I asked Lulu (my husband) about it and he started to grow 4 "bushes" last year, so we keep getting some (especially during the summer), which is very convenient.
I use ponzu soy sauce; it's lemony and less salty than regular soy sauce.
You can use fresh garlic instead of the pickled garlic but the garlic flavor is going to be a lot stronger. You can find pickled garlic in Asian stores.
If you have leftover pickled ginger, make sashimi or sushi.