October 09, 2014

How to cook kale...and survive on katuk over Summer

When I'm doing my produce stall at the local community markets people ask me how kale is cooked. It may be the big time wonder food at the moment, but what do you do with the stuff?

Each to their own, because there are lots of ways to eat your kale...or disguise it, if that's your  hope.

The Dutch mix it with mashed potatoes to make Stamppot. The Turks use it in a tasty rice salad -- Karalahana Salatasi. The Italians dress up a pork stew with it. The Greeks use young kale  raw in a salad  . For Afro Americans , Kale -- aka Collard Greens -- is a core ingredient in Soul Food. You can also use it in stir fries (but best to use curly leaf kale).


But I prefer to throw it into minced meat fry ups... usually for breakfast.

  • fry 500 grams of minced meat (beef, chicken or pork...I prefer lamb)
  • when browning away,  throw in some chopped garlic and spring onions (or normal onions)
  • add chopped fresh chilli (if you want) but the clincher spice, I reckon, is cumin. I prefer cumin seed. And lots of it -- a heaped teaspoon at least of the seed.
  • you can add chopped peppers/capsicum if you have some...or some chopped  fresh herbs like parsley or coriander.
  • then throw in chopped kale. This dish can take a lot of kale so you tweak it to suit your taste buds.
  • add salt and pepper and let the contents of the pan sweat and stew.
  • you can eat the dish as is or with a preferred accompaniment. On toast? With spuds?As  a toastee sandwich filling...I like to eat it as is with dollops of Greek yogurt...and a cup of black coffee.
I love this dish because the mix is cheap, easy  and quick to cook -- and  ever so tasty. Great breakfast fare if you are into the morning fry up.

Katuk.
Over the cooler months I'm using kale in this dish but when Summer kicks in, and the kales  don't thrive, I switch to my favorite vegetable: katuk (aka Sweet Leaf). Katuk  is one of the most popular leaf vegetables in South Asia and Southeast Asia. The short tips have been sold as tropical asparagus...but you'd be lucky to buy the leaves anywhere locally.

I grow it...and the irony is that katuk isn't an everyday grow-near-the-ground veg, but a small tree that's deciduous in the sub tropics. And after you've tasted katuk it's hard to indulge the other greens. Note one of its many names: Sweet Leaf...

You go harvest yourself  some katuk by cutting off a branch or two, then  shred the leaves into your cooking pot. Stir fry. Soup. Salads. Stews...Katuk will perform.

Almost unknown in Australia, Katuk grows well in  Beachmere's sandy soils and, to add to the attraction, prefers shade.

Of related tree-veg  interest is Moringa -- the Drumstick tree --whose properties I'll explore in another  post. Again Moringa grows well in our ganules and is another stir fry, soup, stew and steam option.




2 comments:

  1. Great article and great recipe (looks a bit like my favorite thai dish - Laab/Lahb). I've only just come across Katuk and have been dying to get my hands on a cutting. I can't find it in any of the local nurseries around the Glass House Mountains and they stock a variety of exotic plants (I even picked up a Mamey Sapote on my search). I only wished I had known about it when I made the trek to the BOGI recently. Where are you able to get a seedling/cutting for Katuk? I've never even seen the leaves for sale (but then again it wasn't on my radar). Ben

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  2. A fam from Malaysia runs a stall at the Caboolture Markets and they sell struck cuttings there for $2 a pot.. They are also easy to strike and I've got a few in potlets at the moment. But it's still early in the Summer days for busking up. I hope to sell them at my local market stalls or take orders for township locals. Get back to me in a couple of weeks if you like.

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