Char with Asian Style Kale and Sweet Potato

Some of the most surprising and greatest results emerge from sheer coincidence. It was a similar case for this crispy kale. I planned to use kale with sweet potato marinated Chinese style with soy sauce, garlic, roasted sesame oil, chili and ginger, and baked along with a whole char or trout in the oven. The result was surprising – an effect I originally haven’t intended or planned to achieve. All kale leaves that were standing out from the vegetable bed got wonderful crispy, resulting in a kind of kale chips with Chinese flavor.

Char with Asian Style Kale and Sweet Potato

Kale is very similar to other kinds of cabbage or spinach in terms of first requiring a lot of space and while cooking falling together into almost nothing. For kale this reduction in volume is at least not as extreme as for spinach, but it is still a relevant difference. All I wanted to achieve was to speed up the process of kale falling together. So I blanched the leaves shortly in boiling hot water, chilled them in ice water and pressed out almost all of the liquid. I took the leaves apart and marinated them. After baking the leaves turned wonderful crispy, which was a pleasant surprise, but it’s quite straight-forward if you give it a deeper thought.

Char with Asian Style Kale and Sweet Potato

First, through blanching and pressing out the liquid from the kale, actually the water is removed from the leaves, so it didn’t had to dry and it didn’t cook in its own juices in the oven. Second, while marinating the kale it also got coated by some oil, which of course heated up in the oven and simulated a kind of a fryer. And third, the kale leaves got crispy only, if they were free standing, so the hot air could reach them from all sides and they weren’t disturbed by any liquid coming from the marinade at the base, the fish on top or the sweet potato. So actually it’s a kind of low fat oven frying, I just wasn’t aware of it.

Char with Asian Style Kale and Sweet Potato

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2-3 portions

Char with Asian Style Kale and Sweet Potato


  • 1 char or trout (about 400 g)
  • 300 g sweet potato
  • 6 sticks kale
  • 30 g fresh ginger
  • 1 thai chili
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • pinch brown sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


For the vegetables
Wash the kale and pick off the leaves in bitesize pieces from the stems. Submerge in hot boiling salted water for 10 seconds, drain and chill in ice water. Gather all leaves, form a ball and press out the liquid from the leaves. Take the leaves apart and let dry on the working surface for 10 minutes. Transfer the kale to a bowl.
Peel the sweet potato and cut into cubes of 1cm side length. Cook in hot boiling salted water for 40 seconds. Chill in ice water, drain well and add to the kale.
Finely chop the thai chili, the peeled ginger and the garlic clove. Put everything in a large bowl, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, a pinch of brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Mix the ingredients well and set aside for half an hour.
For the fish
Place a large enough dish into the oven and preheat to 200°C / 390 F. The fish should have room temperature when you start with the preparation.
Wash the fish in cold water and tap dry with kitchen paper. Crush the coriander seeds, black peppercorns and sea salt in a mortar and rub the fish both in- and outside with it.
Remove the hot dish from the oven and add the vegetables to it. Make sure that some kale leaves stand out from the vegetable layer so they will turn crispy. Add the fish on top of the vegetables and bake for 25 minutes.
To serve
Divide the vegetables between 2-3 warm plates. Remove the skin of the fish and using a spoon scrape of the meat from the bones. Add the fish meat on top of the vegetables.

2 thoughts on “Char with Asian Style Kale and Sweet Potato

  1. Robert Post author

    Well, this recipe has the advantage of using less oil and adding any kind of flavor through the marinade. You surely don’t want to toss the kale leaves after frying in soy sauce (perhaps rather dip them in something) and adding soy sauce before submerging the kale leaves in oil is not a good idea either. So for flavored kale chips – like in this case – it works very nice, as long as you make sure that the leaves stand and don’t lie in oil, marinade or anything else wet.

Comments are closed.