2 1/2 pounds fresh kale
1 (8-inch) chunk fresh ginger
2 1/2 tablespoons superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar (or any white vinegar)
1 teaspoon fresh lemongrass purée (see note below)
1 teaspoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon ponzu soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon wasabi paste
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 clove pickled garlic, finely minced
2 1/2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons peanut oil (or regular vegetable oil)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
The day before...
For the Asian salad dressing:
In a bowl, dissolve the honey in 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar. Add the mustard and wasabi paste. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the peanut oil. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes until slightly golden. Set aside the garlic and garlic-infused oil separately.
Place the miso paste, lime juice and 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer for about less than 2-3 minutes. The liquid should reduce to about a tablespoon of miso. Add the wasabi mixture. Remove from the heat. Add ponzu soy sauce and whisk in the peanut oil and sesame oil immediately while the juice is still hot. Add the pickled garlic and lemongrass. Finish with white pepper.
Making pickled ginger:
Clean the ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon. Cut the ginger into 1/16-inch thick slices, lengthwise, using a mandoline.
Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect all the excess moisture). Place the long ginger strips on the rack. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Pat dry using a paper towel.
Place the superfine sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the remaining rice vinegar. Allow to cool completely.
Dip the softened ginger into boiling water for 10 seconds, drain and pat dry on a paper towel.
Place the ginger in a small jar. Cover with the rice vinegar mixture. Mix well. The ginger should be tightly packed and coated with the liquid. Let marinate for at least 12 hours.
The following day...
Wash the raw kale thoroughly in several baths. Remove and discard the fibrous and older part of the stems. Boil the kale in about 2 quarts of salted boiling water. Cook for about 7-10 minutes until tender, depending on how young the plant is. Check doneness by tasting the thickest center vein; it should be soft and tender. Drain and immediately transfer the greens into a cold water bath. Pat dry on a towel. Roughly chop the kale leaves. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside.
Serve all the ingredients at room temperature. Finely slice the pickled ginger. Gather about 2-3 tablespoons of pickled ginger and add it to the kale. Add the reserved fried garlic and drizzle with the Asian inspired vinaigrette. Serve at room temperature.
Note: For the lemongrass purée, wash the lemongrass. Remove all the white powder from the leaves. Cut the stalk in half, discarding the younger part (reserve it for making broth). Cut the remaining stalk into extremely thin slices using a sharp chef's knife. In a mortar and pestle, grind the thin slices of lemongrass, then transfer and mix everything using a mini food processor. It should turn into a fine, moist powder.
Recipe and photograph courtesy of Jacqueline Pham.