Oh how time flies... November is already leaving us. Between Sweet Potato Cake and this post, my work in catering was in full swing for the better part of it, then I managed to leave town for my first vacation in such a long time - a long weekend in Barcelona! After croquetas, churros con xocolat, endless tapas and pintxos consisting of cheese, charcuterie and seafood, along with sangria, wines and beers to match them, I came back just in time for the big turkey day. While I was preparing pie dough for my mini pecan pie bites, I realized I needed a breather for lunch on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Day.
Since my sister's favorite vegetable of the season is kale, it has become a staple ingredient in the refrigerator. With a few other usual ingredients, I made a simple, filling and tasty dish for lunch that's perfect for a break in this indulgent season.
I see many kale recipes that say to discard the stems, but I find them perfectly fine to eat when I sauté them. They add a bit of crunchiness. I cut the stems into small pieces and sautéd them with chopped kale leaves. My go-to choice of noodles is buckwheat noodles (a.k.a. soba or memil myeon 메밀면), but I'd have also used any type of pasta noodles. Kale cooks down a lot (but not as much as spinach), so use more than what you think is necessary. If you found kale to be too bitter before, try sautéing it. A lot of bitterness goes away, and I think it plays very well with garlic, ginger and soy sauce. And of course, a little bit of heat from pepper flakes always helps!
I've already had this twice this week. I can see myself making this dish a few more times throughout December.
Buckwheat Noodles (Soba Noodles) with Sautéed Garlic and Kale
Yield: One Main Serving
1~2 cloves Garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 piece Ginger, peeled and julienned (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Neutral tasting cooking oil
a pinch Salt
3 Big leaves of kale including the stems
1/2~1 teaspoon Soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Toasted sesame oil
Optional) 1/4~1/2 teaspoon of gochu garu (Korean pepper flakes)
or other red pepper flakes to add heat (Adjust the amount based on spiciness)
1 bundle Buckwheat noodles (a.k.a soba or memil myeon 메밀면)
1. Drizzle oil on a hot skillet and add garlic, ginger, pepper flakes (if using) and salt. Sauté over low heat until garlic slices start turning sligthly crispy. Be careful not to burn the pepper flakes.
2. In the meantime, cook soba noodles per the direction on the package, which is usually cooking in boiling water until soft. For this dish, drain the noodles when it's not yet thoroughly cooked. Save the cooking water.
3. Wash and chop kale leaves and stems. Add them to the skillet over low heat and drizzle soy sauce over kale. Mix kale pieces with garlic and ginger.
4. When all kale leaves wilt and their colors become bright green, add cooked soba noodles and mix well. If it's too dry, add a spoonful of water that soba noodles were cooked.
5. Turn off heat. Mix in sesame oil and serve.