There are times when a member of the food group is trending. Yes, I said trending, because there is no other way to describe the movement going on right now with Kale. The beautiful thing is that, this awesome vegetable cuts across cultures. It is not an “oyinbo” thing. Africans are joining the Kale movement and it is getting stronger everyday. Now, Kale is flying off the shelves in supermarkets really fast. I went to two local supermarkets on Saturday, and it was all gone. I asked the people stacking the veggies aisle and they said Missy, everyone wants a piece of Kale now. It is one of their fastest selling veggies. From stir fry, to smoothies, to even Kale chips, Kale is the new fashionable foodie thing right now. It is packed full of anti oxidants, vitamins, chlorophyll, and all those good things nutritionists say your body needs. Imagine my disappointment, I had to drive much further to another store to find it.
If you are wondering what Kale is, it is a very dark, dense curly vegetable. A little angry looking if I might say. I have probably walked past this vegetable hundreds of times and eyed it proper. The same way I eye many vegetables, Cauliflower, public enemy number one. On So You Think You Can Cook, members who live abroad are always finding ways to substitute ingredients used in Nigerian food. For some it is a case of cost, convenience or even no choice at all. When people ask, what western grown vegetable can I use in Efo Riro apart from spinach, many times the word Kale comes up. Mostly, I just ignore as sourcing Nigerian vegetables isn’t too difficult for me, and once convenience is in the mix, I can become a creature of habit. Here’s what it looks like.
You know there is a reason why Times has The Most Influential List. Up until recently, I always looked at those lists with major eye roll, because I say to myself who have they influenced (apart from the obvious ones of course). When I started blogging, I got the gist of what it means to be influential, and how people on such lists, well some of them anyway deserve to be on that list. The analogy behind those lists came up in the most unlikely of places. SYTYCC. Kale had been mentioned on the group several times and many people didn’t pay attention until one of our cooking gurus Phisayo A. cooked with it, posted the picture and shared her experience. Then everybody was on Kale like flies to sugar, and for good reason too, it is a fab veggie. Suddenly Kale efo riro, which I will term Kale Riro started popping up multiple times on the group. Kale Egusi soup too followed by a close second. If sourcing Ugu or Soko been a pain for you, don’t sweat it anymore, go the Kale route. I have planned to try Kale in different ways. Efo Riro, Ottong Soup and two more which I am going to zip my fingers for now, because I am due to trying it this week.
I tried Efo riro first, because it will give me a soft landing in terms of understanding how Kale cooks. The volume of fried and seasoned pepper stock involved, will carefully bath the Kale and provide all the flavour. Kale truly surprised me, and I believe using my mother’s tip about new ingredients gave me a winning recipe. I actually made this for the very first time, for a meal drop off service. I know my mother’s tip very well and it gave me the confidence to try this on a customer’s food and not mine for home consumption. I got great feedback from this Kale Riro, I just knew I had to share. I added spinach to it because during Christmas, my cousin Aunty Bukky, one of my cooking heroes made Efo riro with Ugu and Frozen Spinach, and I found it very interesting. Ugu is a very dense veggie for Efo riro, I wouldn’t advise you to use it alone. It is best in Egusi or Edikang Ikong, as the egusi or water leaf carefully masks its texture. I decided to apply her principle, because Kale is very similar to Ugu in texture, hence the use of spinach. Aunty Bukky used more frozen Spinach than Ugu though, I flipped it the other way. Here’s the 1 bunch of spinach I used, compared to the two heavy bunches of Kale in the picture above
You will need
2 bunches of Kale
1 bunch of Spinach
1 piece of Tatashe – red bell pepper
2 – 3 pieces of ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
shredded stockfish and smoked fish
chopped red onions
Salt Seasoning cubes
Overall, the same method and ingredients as my previous Efo Riro recipe HERE hence, not that much pictures. I was cooking for two meal drop off orders. 9 different dishes, any wonder I even remembered to take pictures. My apologies.
1. Follow my old Efo Riro recipe HERE, when you get to the point of adding vegetables, come back. No need to repeat the same words.
Welcome back. I believe you should not have your well fried and seasoned pepper stock ready for the veggies. My mum has a tip, which I have always used when trying something new, it has never failed me. Mummy’s Cooking Tip: when cooking with something you have never used before and it constitutes a major ingredient, always portion it into thirds. You do this to study how the ingredient will behave when cooked, start with the first third and see, then you have time to make corrections if it doesn’t turn out the way you do, or you won’t feel so bad if it doesn’t turn out well. Mama ain’t never been wrong.
2. Turn the heat down to low, and add the first 1/3 of the Kale. Stir and just watch it for about 1 minute, maximum 2, you will see it leach out some of its water. At this point, I thought hmmmn, if spinach is still coming, there will be more water in the pot. Not to worry. That’s all about to change. You will soon see why portioning into thirds is a very good idea.
the beauty with Kale is, it will still remain green, and crunchy.
3. After a 2 minutes, add the other third, this time, add the third with all the spinach. Even though I used 1 bunch of spinach, it constituted the silent partner. 1 bunch of spinach is roughly 1/4 – 1/2 of a whole bunch of Kale.
once you add the send batch, now you will even see more water coming out, at the beginning
give it another minute or so, then bubbles will start to form, turn up the heat and taste. You will notice the flavour of the Kale strongly, with a hint of the spinach, but the interesting part is that the first Kale batch has now softened to merge with the texture of the spinach, while the second Kale batch is still crunchy. Watch it for another minute, and then get ready to add the last third.
Then turn add the remaining ground crayfish to absorb some of the water. See…… Also add the smoked fish and stir carefully.
4. For this last third of the Kale, make sure you turn up the heat. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: this is to quickly reduce the volume of water the last third will produce. Then add the last third batch of Kale and stir. The addition of the last batch, plus the heat will absorb most of the water, leaving you with a bright green, crunchy, but at the same time, soft pot of Efo Riro.
There is a term I used to hear a lot on Food Network. I can’t remember the name now, but it has to do with adding an ingredient in stages or phases and getting different textures and flavours out of it. That proved correct here, even though I was just following my Mum’s tip about using a new ingredient. Despite the staging, or phasing of adding the Kale, the entire thing took roughly 5 minutes. So, don’t be discouraged. ……….and that’s your pot of Kale Riro done. If you have made Efo Riro with Kale before, I urge you to try the stages method with spinach, and tell me what you think.
I found this Kale Riro to be soft, crunchy and mushy, plus it tasted vegetabley, if that’s the word. It meshed beautifully with the rest of the ingredients. Love, love, loved it. The customer loved it too. I am definitely making it again for myself.
This is going to be my first of a series of 4 posts using Kale in Nigerian food. My love affair with Kale has truly started. I hope you join in the fun too.