Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Need for Greens

All this week, I've been really sick with some kind of chest cold/virus. For the first 3 days, I couldn't go five minutes without having a coughing fit. Now, the virus has moved up into my head (read: streaming nose), and the coughing has changed from less frequent to more intense attacks.

I've had 4 days off work. My husband has taken to calling me Wheezy McWheezerton.

Let's hope it's a name that doesn't stick.

Anyway, as I've been sick, I've been craving healthy, colourful food with tons of flavour.

One night, we went a little Japanese and did this:

From bottom right: snap peas, kale, chard and cabbage namul, rice and Ma Po Tofu
 Now, I have to admit, of all the things on that plate, the one thing I could have eaten the entire serving bowl of was the namul.

Namul (or namuru) comes to Japan via Korea, and is frequently used as a bento filler. It was certainly one of the more common fillers as a part of my school lunches in Japan. I've experimented with different versions off the Just Bento website (here and here), and I'll be honest, I'm still trying to recreate that exact one that I used to get in Sakashita. It's a work in progress.

The great thing about this recipe is it works with just about any greens you have lying about in your fridge. I had leftover kale, swiss chard and cabbage, so that's what got used up. I never measure the greens, so I guess it's lucky that the dressing seems to work no matter how much I throw into it.

Namuru Greens

(based on Just Bento's recipe)


1 half bunch chard leaves shredded, stems discarded
1 half bunch kale leaves shredded, stems discarded
¼ cabbage, shredded

½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp honey


1. Bring a large (and I do mean large, you'll be blanching all the greens in there at once) pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add cabbage. Cook for one minute, then add kale and chard. Cook for one more minute, or until bright green. Remove greens from boiling water and plunge into ice water. This will stop the cooking process.

2. Once the greens are cold, remove from water, squeezing to exact as much liquid as possible.

3. In a bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Toss with greens and serve.

It's funny, because this recipe tastes to me like there's soy sauce in it, even though there isn't! It's got a great umami taste though.

I've had some success keeping the namuru overnight and putting it in a bento for the following day, but I've also had occasions where it has turned grey. If anyone knows why that's happening, let me know!

If you're wondering why I didn't post a recipe for the Ma Po Tofu, here's your answer:

We cheated.

I'm sick. It's allowed.

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