Crispy Chilli Kale with Roasted garlic, Sweet Soy & White Pepper

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Autumn is an awesome time for produce and there is some seriously tasty stuff around at this time of year. This is a bloody easy recipe which shows off how tasty kale can be, with little to no work. Put it in a soup, stir fry, pickle it, steam it, pan fry it, deep-fry it or as I do in this recipe roast it, hell you can pretty much do anything with it if you like but I wouldn’t eat it raw, unless you’re into that kind of thing? People always say that you must wait until after the first frost to allow kale to sweeten naturally and be at its best. To this I agree, but to waiting, most certainly not! If you buy it in and it’s bitter, stick it in the freezer for a few hours, this helps sweeten and soften the leaves making them delicious to eat and easier to cook, but still don’t eat it raw even when frozen yeah!

Serves 2-3 VE

6 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons coriander roots, washed and chopped (leave these out if you can’t find them they are just an added bonus)

A small pinch coarse sea salt

100ml light Soy Sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried chilli powder

1 tablespoon soft brown sugar

500g, Kale thick stems removed and discarded, then ripped into roughly 4cm by 8cm pieces

60ml olive oil

1 teaspoon white peppercorns, toasted and spice ground to a fine powder

In a pestle and mortar or a food processor add the peeled garlic and the coriander roots and pound to a paste, using a little malden sea salt as an abrasive if needed. Next add all the other ingredients except the Kale and loosely combine. Then toss this through the Kale making sure to coat every single piece.

Meanwhile preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade and lay these out on large baking trays trying not to overlap too much to allow for even cooking within the oven. Place in the oven and check every few minutes until it is crisp and ready to eat, it usually takes around 10 minutes, depending on your oven. Do make sure to keep checking it regularly as if it is left for too long it will turn brown and taste bitter. The garlic should begin to cook with the leaves and fill the kitchen with the smell of roast garlic, most definitely one of my favourite smells.

Once crispy drizzle with the remaining soy mix in the bowl, making sure to strain out any raw garlic that did not go into the oven, sprinkle with white pepper and serve immediately.

Sticky pork belly with salted roast pumpkin and crispy shallots

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Photo taken by Tom Regester from Sebby Holmes, Cook Thai, published by Kyle Books 2017

Ever since I tasted sticky pork for the first time when I started my journey in Thai food at the begging bowl it quickly become one of my favourite things to eat. It’s rich, sweet, salty yet savoury flavours make this dish a perfect one to impress friends. Me and the team at Farang like to smoke the pumpkin over cherry wood, however a salt roast is a little easier to do at home without setting any alarms off or make your house smell like a bonfire. In Thailand this is often eaten with rice and green papaya salad but its great just as it is.

Serves 2-3 people

300g, pork belly, skin removed

150g pumpkin, peeled and chopped into roughly 2cm by 2cm chunks

5g coarse sea salt

2 fresh bay leaves

1-star anise

1 x 4cm long piece of cassia bark (cinnamon sticks will do)

300g palm sugar (dark soft brown sugar can also be used)

100ml oyster sauce

50ml dark soy sauce

100ml fish sauce (depends on pork fat content and taste)

1 pandan leaf, tied in a knot and torn to release flavour (this can be left out if you cannot find one)

2 spring onions, thinly sliced

4 banana shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

500ml, sunflower oil, for deep frying the shallots

Firstly get the pumpkin and the pork belly ready for cooking. In two separate boiling pots bring some salted water to the boil, once boiling turn down to a simmer and add the whole chunk of pork belly into one pan and the pumpkin to the other. Cook the pumpkin for around 4-5 minutes and then remove and refresh under cold water, it should be softened but still very firm and holding its shape, not mushy, at this stage sprinkle the pumpkin with the coarse sea salt. Carefully cook the pork belly for around 12-15 minutes making sure not to boil the water whilst the pork is in it, the slower it is boiled the more tender it will be, remove once the pork has cooked throughout and all impurities have been cooked out of it, leave aside to cool slightly. Once cool, chop the pork into roughly 2cm by 2cm chunks.

Next make the sauce. In a separate oven proof pan add the sugar, oyster sauce, dark soy, pandan leaf, cassia bark, star anise and 50ml of the fish sauce to start. Heat all of this together gently and once melted add the chopped pork belly and stir well, making sure to coat all of the pork belly. Next place some parchment paper over the top of the pork belly mix and place in an oven at 160 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes. At this stage remove from the oven and add the blanched pumpkin and delicately fold it into the mix making sure not to mas up any pork or pumpkin, then return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes. Check the pork before you remove from the oven it should be slightly caramelised and tender, the pumpkin should be soft and ready to serve at this point, be careful handling it as it will be soft to the touch.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a medium pan on a high heat (roughly 180 degrees centigrade), once this is hot place one piece of shallot into the oil to ensure it is not too hot, the shallot should bubble and fizz in a controlled manner, if it hisses then the oil is too hot so turn it off and allow to cool for a few minutes before going again. Fry the shallots until they are beginning to turn golden brown and then remove and strain on a clean tray with kitchen towel to get rid of all excess oil. Use a fork to pick apart the shallots as they tend to cook together in clumps, as the shallots cool they will crisp up and become perfect for garnish.

Serve the sticky pork and pumpkin straight out of the oven, topped with the sliced spring onions and the crispy shallots. For the best experience eat immediately and as suggested above eat with salad and some Thai sticky rice for mopping up all the rich juices.

Thanks for reading and I hope you like the recipe, please do let me know your comments if you cook it up, (unless you don’t like it of course, ha- you can keep that to yourself). Hopefully I’ll see you in Farang soon for a bite.

Cheers,

@sebbyholmes

(Head chef / Director of  Farang London, Highbury, London N5 2XE)