Kale is definitely one of my favorite ingredients this winter. I usually buy one large or two smaller plants on Saturdays at the market and cook them quite often Asian style once or twice a weak. Because a kale plant is huge, it’s impossible to keep it in the refrigerator. Fortunately, in winter I can store it in a bag on my balcony, because cold and frosty nights are no problem for kale. Actually, temperatures below 0°C makes kale taste less bitter and more sweet. That is also a reason why it is such a great winter vegetable.
In the northern part of Germany “Grünkohl mit Pinkel” is a traditional winter dish. It is basically a combination of kale (in German “Grünkohl”), oatmeal, onion and a smoked pork sausage made with oatmeal called “Pinkel”. You can find this dish at almost every winter festival like christmas markets, where it is prepared continuously in huge steaming pans. The main advantages of this dish are, that it is made completely from local produce, it is very simple to prepare, scales well and reheating is no problem either. It is also very stodgy and warms well on cold winter days. I thought that this traditional dish could be easily transformed into a more elaborate version by rethinking some of the main components and by restructuring the dish. Below you see my result.
If you open a cookbook about classic french cooking you will find recipes for several sauces. Except for vinaigrettes, almost all sauces contain either milk, eggs or animal bones. So while I was exploring vegan cooking, my idea was to figure out whether it is possible to create a rich brown sauce by using vegetables only. My result was more than satisfactory. I didn’t taste the same as sauces prepared with animal parts, but this rich vegan brown sauce works great for coating or glazing baked or roasted vegetables.
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.