For a long time now this has been one of my favourite things to eat and I have just realised that I have never shared it with you.
I love Chinese crispy seaweed. It’s so utterly delicious. But it is not in the slightest nutritious. This has been a long standing love affair as I have loved crispy seaweed since I was very little.
I loved it so much that the day before I went to boarding school aged 11, I got to go to my favourite Chinese restaurant in London. The Royal China on Queensway. It was epic. We ordered crispy seaweed galore. But I was so nervous about going away to boarding school that I couldn’t eat a thing. It was a monumental moment for everyone as up until that point I had never ever missed a meal. Never ever. Let alone missed out on my beloved crispy seaweed. That’s how nervous I was. Poor little me.
Don’t worry though, I’ve made up for it since.
I could never understand how they got it so gorgeously crispy. And was it really seaweed? And what is that delicious brown stuff sprinkled on the top? So many questions. I’ve trudged along beaches inspecting different seaweeds to see which might be “the one”, but to no avail.
But then suddenly and cruelly the mystique of my beloved crispy seaweed was whipped away. The scales fell from my eyes and I found out it was cabbage. Cabbage which had never so much as dipped a toe in the sea. Deep fried to within an inch of its life. And sprinkled with Chinese five spice. Oh and probably more than a dash of MSG. Bleurgh.
It’s been hard to look at crispy seaweed in the same way since. Which is why I have come up with this new version which I know you are going to love.
It’s completely delicious, and nutritious. We all know Kale is the superfood of the moment so it’s wonderfully good for you. It just so happens to crisp up beautifully in the oven. As an ode to my old flame I make my own Chinese five spice blend and sprinkle it on. If I close my eyes and take a bite I am right back in the Royal China, but without the flutter of butterflies going on in my stomach at the thought of boarding school. Yum.
This really isn’t the sort of thing you need an exact recipe for so I won’t give you one. The only tip I will tell you is that it shrinks down a lot in the oven so always cook more kale than you think you will need or want. For example. One bag of shredded kale you can buy in the supermarket looks like a lot but would be great for two people.
- Kale, washed and thoroughly dried
- salt and pepper
- olive oil
- Simply preheat the oven to 200C.
- Then, remove the woody stalk from the kale and the 'ribs' and roughly chop. Or....you can buy ready shredded kale which is a dream.
- Pop it into a large roasting tin. You don't want it all over lapping otherwise the kale won't go crispy.
- Season well and then add about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. It only wants to be neatly coated rather than drenched, so err on the side of less and you can always add more.
- Now cook for about 10 minutes, giving it a stir half way through. Cook until lovely and crispy. Be careful, as when it goes it goes - so don't be tempted to leave it alone as burnt Kale is no where as delicious as crispy kale.
- Remove from the oven and serve with a sprinkling of homemade Chinese Five Spice.
- I also love it sprinkled with pine nuts and chilli flakes.
- Serve as a side to just about anything and enjoy!
- 1 tsp. ground Szechwan pepper
- 1 tsp. ground star anise
- 1-1/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds
- ½ tsp. ground cloves
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground white pepper
- I like making my own as all the ones you can buy are full of sugar and other chemicals and preservatives that we can do without. It's really easy to make, and tastes great! You can either grind whole spices or use ground versions, I won't judge you.
- Simply mix it all together!
- Sprinkle on crispy Kale or pop into a container and store in cool dry place until the next time.