Hed Chef: Kale and pork rib soup
Classic Chinese soup with Western 'superfood'
Every now and then, some vegetable or fruit gets elevated to the status of a "superfood".
The craze over kale has gone on for some time now and you can find it at some major supermarkets here, but I see it as a Western food fad.
So it surprised me when the vegetable stall at my neighbourhood wet market started selling kale too.
What is a Western superfood doing in a heartland market?
Apparently, it is pretty useful as an ingredient for an unpretentious classic home-style Chinese soup that tastes so good, you do not need to take it with a pinch of salt.
But you may feel a pinch in your wallet.
Kale is not cheap. The price hovers around $10 for a bunch.
The vegetable stall owner recommends boiling kale with pork ribs, radish and carrot. For that extra touch of luxury, add dried scallops.
I go a step further by using dried whelk and an extra large red date.
The result is a soup that is clear yet so robust in flavour that any additional salt would be an insult.
This soup has made it to my list of top soups.
I like it so much that I decided to find out more about kale and how healthy a food it really is.
- 300g kale, washed and cut into 6cm-long pieces
- 3 medium-sized carrots, cut into chunks
- 1 radish, cut into chunks
- 800g pork ribs
- 4 litres of water
- 1 piece of dried whelk
- 3 dried scallops
- 1 large red date (or use three small ones)
- 1 head of garlic
- 40g ginger, smashed
1. Blanch the pork ribs until there is no visible blood. Discard the water and briefly rinse the pork ribs.
2. In a separate large and sturdy pot, bring 4 litres of water to a boil.
3. Put in ginger, garlic, red date, dried scallops and dried whelk. (A)
4. Add the pork. Boil for 30 minutes.
5. Add the carrots and radish. (B)
6. Add the kale and boil for another 45 minutes. (C)
Is kale a miracle food?
Kale is a vegetable that is good for your health, but it is not a miracle food, says Ms Amy Schnabel, a registered dietitian at the University of California, Los Angeles.
She says: "Like all plants, kale contains chemicals that may help prevent cancer. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is recommended for cancer prevention."
Ms Schnabel emphasises that kale "is no better than all the other dark, leafy greens".
If you cannot find kale, you can eat chard, spinach, collard, bok choy or any dark leafy greens.
Kale contains vitamins, minerals, fibre and phytonutrients (plant compounds thought to promote health) and is low in calories, fat and sodium.
"Raw kale and other cruciferous vegetables, if eaten in very large quantities, may interfere with iodine uptake. However this is very rare," says Ms Schnabel.
"Variety is key. Eating a wide variety of vegetables is the healthiest diet."