Saturday, 16 November 2013

All hail the curly kale!

(I wrote this blog in German yesterday because I was taking part in the  "European Multilingual Blogging Day 2013" - it was great great fun but now we're back to business as usual:)

When I read, a short while ago, that the actress and (former) hard-core vegan/macrobiotic dieter Gwyneth Paltrow is a big fan of (curly) kale, I could hardly contain my excitement: "In.The.Bag! Kohl und Pinkel* (North German kale stew) – now we're talking, Gwynnie!“

"Don't be shy – have another Kochwurst (spicy sausage) - and another pound of Kassler (smoked pork)!!“ I shrieked in giddy abandonment.

Imagine my disappointment, though, when I found out that Ms Paltrow does NOT prefer her Grünkohl (kale) the "hearty" Northern German way: as a wintery, rich stew with LOTS of fatty, porky bits. NO. She only eats curly kale "au naturel". (But then again, why was I surprised by that – especially as, at the same time, she had banned ALL carbohydrates from her two children's diet - which means no bread, potatoes, pasta or rice for poor Apple (9) and Moses (7). But this is not all as, according to her, everyone in her house — including husband Chris Martin — is "intolerant of gluten, dairy and chicken’s eggs - among many other surprising foods“.** (This is, of course, on top of an all-out sugar, chocolate, fast food and snacks ban...) HOWEVER, her two can happily imbibe in their mommy's "kale chips" (a big bunch of kale leaves baked – 100% oil-less - in the oven until "crisp") and wash it all down with her kale "detox juice", so there IS a silver lining!)

But Ms Paltrow has got it somehow right, though: curly kale is suddenly all the range – it's the trendy newcomer in the hippest restaurants of New York and London. It's easy to see why: curly kale is not only totally delicious, but also extremely nutritious and healthy as it's packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It's very easy to prepare and can be eaten raw, steamed or stir-fried. On top of that, it's cheap: even in the organic shop/stall I buy it from*** it's only  €1.50/kg.  My preferred way of eating it, however, is as this most delicious stir-fry (which is slightly adapted from a Waitrose recipe):

Chinese beef stir-fry with kale and black bean sauce

4 beef steaks (ca 150 – 175g each)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, halved and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
a thumb of ginger, peeled and chopped
200g curly kale
¼ tsp chillies (optional)
4 - 5 tbsp black bean sauce****

Cut the beef into very thin slices*****.Mix the sesame oil, rice wine and soy sauce in a shallow dish and add the meat. Mix well and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
Heat half the oil in a frying pan or wok. Add the beef and stir-fry for about 3 minutes until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
Wipe the pan and add the remaining oil. Heat through then add the onion, garlic and ginger. Fry for a minute then add the kale (and chillies if using) and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Return the beef to the pan and add the black bean sauce. Fry together for a minute then serve with boiled rice.

*Pinkel is a fatty, highly aromatic haggis-like sausage (but without the offal).
** The humble tomato is another source of caution for Ms Paltrow: she advises to only eat them "if you're NOT avoiding nightshade plants because of inflammation". (???)
***Unfortunately, curly kale is not that easily available in Brussels, as both the Belgians and the French still regard it solely as „cattle fodder“. But organic producers sell it, and I get mine from the shop at this organic farm in Laeken – and they also have a stall on this Friday market in Schaerbeek/Etterbeek.
**** I always use a sachet of Amoy's black bean sauce - easily available in Brussels supermarkets and in the UK.
*****Place the steaks in the freezer for 20 minutes - this makes them so much easier to slice very thinly!


  1. Well, what a surprise to see you writing about curly kale. I was about to send you a few recipes for this wonderful veg but thought you might not be able to find it so easily in Belgium. Here you get a huge bag for just one pound. It makes a lovely pre-dinner crisp-like snack, by coating it extremely lightly in sunflower oil, perhaps one teaspoon for 250g and then adding chinese 5-spice or powdered garlic or chili or whatever and baking it for 6-8 minutes watching it carefully to make sure it doesn't catch. Bisous H M m

  2. Helen - HOW great to know YOU'RE THERE in cyberspace - how are you and Mark and Maya?? And YES - THAT'S the kinda kale crisps that one should have...

  3. I remember very well those kids who never got any kind of sweets at home - they ravenously wolfed down any candy or chocolate they could grab when they attended other children's birthday parties... One food fad seems to chase the other here in the US. And somebody makes a lot of money selling specialty "free of" foods.