In our current issue, St. John Frizell takes a closer look at Portland, home of a burgeoning food scene that spans everything from food trucks to craft beer (read the story here). One of his favorite dishes from his trip to the jewel of the Pacific Northwest was from a restaurant called Smallwares, which calls its culinary approach “inauthentic” Asian. See the recipe for Fried Kale with Fish Sauce, Mint and Bacon below.
Fried Kale with Fish Sauce, Mint and Bacon
From chef Johanna Ware of Smallwares (4605 Northeast Fremont St., Portland, Oregon, 971.229.0995)
1 bunch of kale (Ware prefers cavolo nero, but any will do)
8 cups canola oil
Tempura Batter (recipe follows)
½ cup fish sauce dressing (recipe follows)
¼ cup chopped, cooked thick-cut bacon (the smokier the better)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
Tear kale leaves off of the stems, and cut larger leaves in half. Boil kale in salted water for 1 minute. Strain into colander and spread out onto a sheet tray. When cool enough to handle squeeze out all of the water from the kale.
Heat 8 cups of canola oil in a wide high-sided pot to 350º. In a large bowl put fish sauce dressing, cilantro, mint, and bacon.
Dip the kale into the tempura and place into the oil. It is important to try and separate the leaves as it goes in the oil to avoid clumping. Fry for 30 seconds. Using a spider, take kale out of oil and place into the large bowl. Toss the kale so all the ingredients coat it. Place into individual bowls.
2 cups rice flour
1 cup cold seltzer water
Dash of salt
Whisk all ingredients until they just come together.
Fish Sauce Dressing
½ cup fish sauce
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove minced
1 Serrano chile
minced (keep the seeds if you like things spicy)
Whisk all ingredients together.
Stored in the fridge, this will keep for a couple of weeks.