A nutritionist friend once told me that perfect food had to combine four flavors: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. “Take, for example, simple kale,” she said… and her phone rang. She had to leave urgently, to consult someone who, apparently, haven’t learned all the principles of perfect food yet.
“So Irit, wait, what do I do with that simple kale?” – I tried to catch up with her as she was running to her car.
“Oh I don’t know, stir fry or something…”
That was coming, and I knew it. While not exactly a raw food enthusiast, she strongly believed in less, rather than more, cooking, i.e. exposing fresh ingredients bursting with nutrients to heat that kills most of them.
I got my simple kale, tore it into pieces – that’s another one of my friend’s lessons, to avoid bruising greens with a knife – washed and dried it, and tossed it into a very hot barely misted with oil dutch oven. I covered it, to preserve natural moisture.
Then I got my four perfect flavors: blue agave for sweetness, lemon juice for sour taste, soy sauce for saltiness, and grated ginger for spice. Because I wasn’t told anything otherwise – in fact, I wasn’t told anything at all! – I did exactly as one of my favorite writers described: I didn’t think; I experimented (Anthony Burgess, in The Devil Mode,I believe). A splash of this, and a tablespoon of that, and hope for the best!
The whole process took about two minutes, and as soon as kale started losing color and going soft, I turned off the heat. I adjusted proportions of the flavors several times, ultimately deciding that it needed a touch of sesame oil – don’t ask me why! I looked at it, and it really looked perfect. So perfect, that it called for some perfect music. Listen to Placido Domingo and Itzhak Perlman perform Elegie by Massenet, while I look for a perfect salad bowl.
Meanwhile, another thought occurred to me: we only discussed flavors, but never had a chance to talk about textures when she had to run. Calling her was not an option, as she was on a consult. So I consulted Anthony Burgess instead, and experimented again.
I decided that the subtle crunchiness of roasted sesame seeds will provide a nice contrast to soft , yet springy kale. And while I was at it, I also made a decision in favor of white, rather than black sesame seeds, since combination of colors was yet another topic we never got to discuss. I thought that a white accent would bring out the lively green brightness of kale, whereas black would just be depressive. Call me crazy, yes! I am the same girl who spent hours walking from one Monet’s painting to another and standing enraptured in front of each, until my husband declared that if he saw one more water lily, he’d retreat to a different museum.
I have to tell you that my friend Irit was right; what eventually came out as a result of this mad experiment was simply heavenly. You can ask my husband, but he won’t answer because he is too busy eating!
- 4 cups loose fresh green or red kale, torn into pieces, washed, and thoroughly dried
- 2 tablespoons agave
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/4 cup grated ginger
- A splash of sesame oil
- Roasted white sesame seeds to garnish
- Preheat deep frying pan or dutch oven to maximum heat, lightly mist with oil.
- Toss kale into the pan, cover.
- Add agave, lemon juice, soy sauce, ginger, toss. Cover.
- As soon as kale changes color and becomes bright green, and also softens, turn off heat. It shouldn’t take more than 2 – 3 minutes. Do not overcook!
- Add sesame oil, toss. Transfer into clear bowl, to bring out the color.
- Garnish with sesame seeds.
- Serve hot, warm, or cold, as an appetizer, salad, or side dish.