I didn’t really know what kale was up until a few years ago.
And not to sound funny, but vegetables in its raw, simplest form was foreign to me. And who am I kidding? It still kind of is. Andrew jokes that I didn’t know what a vegetable really was until I met him.
But you can’t blame anyone for this culture clash. I grew up in a Filipino household where eating meat doused in a salty sauce served with white rice for every meal was the norm. It all made sense to him when I brought him to my family’s Thanksgiving a few years ago where my aunties pointed to the rice, the pork pinakbet and the lettuce as the “vegetables”. My cousins usually exclaim, “Yo, who brought the rabbit food?” when looking at a bowl of salad. Andrew’s blue eyes bulged at the sight of tray upon tray of meat. The look on his face was a mixture of confusion, disgust and curiosity: a look i’ll call confustiosity.
Our food worlds often clash while our stomachs and palates differ on things like: Should dinner be meat centric or vegetable centric? Can it just be a grilled piece of meat without a sauce? Can we just have a roasted vegetable doused with butter? Wait, you’re putting butter in your rice? Cue the confustious look on my face.
But alas, we compromise. We find balance. We take the best of both worlds and smash them together. And it is with that I present to you a recipe almost fit for a Filipino potluck.
Coconut Adobo Kale, Roasted
We see kale everywhere. It gets shredded, it gets turned into chips, it gets massaged with oils, smoothied. Whatever. Add this recipe to the ever growing list-o-things-to-do-with-kale. For me, it’s a happy marriage of flavors. The earthiness of the kale merges with the tangy saltiness of a Filipino adobo. The word “adobo” came from when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines. It usually refers to a cooking process involving vinegar and garlic, and has taken many lifeforms in different Filipino households. Here, I make the sauce into a glaze utilizing ingredients that can be found at your local asian supermarket. Invite me along, too so I can stock up on Pocky and Hello Panda.
What you need:
1 head of kale
2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter
5-6 tablespoons of coconut vinegar
3-4 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
2-3 tablespoons of sriracha
1 teaspoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of honey
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
For the kale:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and dry your kale. Prep them by removing the bottom stem and keep the leaves as whole as possible. Melt 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil with the other tablespoon of vegetable oil. Arrange your kale in a single layer on several cookie sheets. Rub the oil all over the kale. And yes, give your kale a good rub. Roast the kale for about 5-7 minutes, keeping an eye on it until edges are crispy, but the center of the leaves are bright green and still firm somewhat soft. This leaves some texture for the adobo sauce to cling to and makes it different than a chip. Although you certainly can go all the way and make it into a chip if you prefer that. Also grilling the whole leaf with the stem works too. While your kale is cooking, toast your shredded coconut for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned.
For the adobo glaze:
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter with the other tablespoon of coconut oil. Combine the coconut vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sriracha and honey. Reduce for about 8-10 minutes until the glaze coats the back of your spoon. Taste and adjust seasonings to your palate.
Now do it:
Remove kale from the oven. Spoon adobo sauce over your kale and gently toss to coat. Garnish with toasted coconut and serve.
Thank you to our friends over at COOK for inviting us to the Filipino fiesta night and for the fish sauce swag. This recipe is for you!