Friday, January 1, 2010

CSA week four - gomen wat

The final item from my CSA share this fortnight was the collard greens and I didn't think there was going to be a lot of options with them. Unless you want to shred them and use them in one of the Brazilian methods you're going to have to braise them. It's just the nature of the leaf.

But, it occurred to me that the Southern style of braising collards evolved out of African traditions; There must be African methods of cooking hearty greens that, even if they don't change the methodology much, should have some interesting variations on the seasonings. Turns out I was right; I found several recipes from different regions once I started looking.

I think I've mentioned here that I want to try some Ethiopian cooking. This was my first opportunity so this, gomen wat, was the regional version I went with. That does mean that this recipe is intended as one component of a multi-dish meal served with injera. I haven't got any teff flour so injera's out of the question, but I suppose I could have made a full dinner. And now that I think about it, there ought to be ways to approximate the unusual flavor and texture teff brings. Maybe next time.

The gomen wat I made is mostly based on the recipe I found at, but I adjusted based on other recipes I found and some personal preferences too.

1/2 pound (I bunch) collard greens - cleaned, destemmed and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 small hot peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 inch ginger root, grated

1. Place collard greens and water in a dutch oven or large pot. Bring the water to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until collards are barely tender, about 20 minutes. Set pot aside.

2. In a medium cast iron or non-stick pan, heat 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook gently until they start to brown, around 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the rest of the olive oil, the collards and the cooking liquid. Simmer uncovered over medium high heat until the pan is nearly dry, around 15 minutes (but check after 10).

4. Add the peppers, lemon juice, salt, ginger and spices. Mix thorouly and cook until the peppers soften, around 5 minutes.

The cooking method works well for the collards, leaving them brightly flavorful and with an al dente firmness. I misjudged the heat of the peppers I used, so the dish is blazingly spicy. Good despite that, though. The turmeric and allspice provide an earthy base for the greens and citrus. The sweetness of the red peppers are a nice contrast and they add a little crunch. It's quite different from the standard pork and smoke notes--less homey, but more interesting at least to me. I'm going to save the leftovers and pull it out next time I make something Ethiopian to get the full effect.


LaDivaCucina said...

How the heck did your greens last this long? Mine were already turning yellow after a few days and I had to throw a few out.

Have you been to our only Ethiopian restaurant? (Sheeba's is closed as you know, I never made it there) but Kafa's Cafe on NE 2nd just down the street from mid-town shopping center is supposed to be Ethiopian, I had a bit of their food at Fairchild a while back and it tasted like the real deal.

When I lived in Chicago and L.A. we had great Ethiopian restaurants. It's one of my fave Ethnic foods.

billjac said...

I think my greens lasted because I bagged them up promptly in a slightly inflated bag with one of those super-absorbent cloths to soak up any moisture they exuded and then didn't touch them. The leaf on the bottom was a little bit grotty, but the rest were just fine.

I didn't know Sheeba's was closed. I had intended to get there at some point. Maybe I'll try Kafa's instead, but Ethiopian is one of those cuisines best enjoyed in a group so it's a bit awkward for all by myself. Keeps me from going to Tropical Chinese more often too; all their dishes are sized to serve at least two.