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Feb 1, 2012 08:22 PM

Brining Kale?

I tasted an amazing kale slaw at a restaurant recently. They told me they brine the thin ribbons of kale.
Does anyone know how much salt per half gallon of water? for how long? does the salt in the brine remain in the food or is it washed away and therefore, okay for those who watch their salt intake?

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  1. I'm going to guess that the way that they "brine" the kale does not involve a water-based brine. Most recipes that I have seen for raw kale salad involves "massaging" thin strips of kale with salt and acid to soften the texture.

    Personally, I have not tried a recipe using this technique yet, but I bet other Chowhounds might have recipes to recommend! If not, I'd google "raw kale salad recipe' and see what proportions look about right.

    As far as watching salt intake, brining does add sodium to the foods, as the liquid transported (and ultimately remaining) in the food is "salted". Generally, rinsing items canned with salt (e.g. beans) removes approximately 1/3 of the sodium.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 4Snisl

      Thanks-- a very helpful and thoughtful response. I will check into the massaging further. It seems as it would be easier to massage before the kale is cut into ribbons but maybe that doesn't do the trick.

      1. re: Rlbow16

        I suppose "massaging" is an unusual term to use in cooking....but I've heard people use it often when they explain how to make kale salad! A alternative way to describe is vigorously working the kale strips with your hands in some combination of salt, acid and oil. I don't think that every piece has to be carefully rubbed down (although the vision of doing that makes me chuckle a bit).

        To see a quick demo of a version, including the G-rated massage action, here's a 30-second youtube video.

        Thanks for reminding me that I've been meaning to massage some kale. :)

    2. By chance this last weekend I was in Phoenix at a wonderful restaurant where I had kale slaw. It was fantastic. I talked to my waitress for a long time about how the kale was prepared. She confirmed they brined their kale. It was soft and tender and I don't like kale for the most part. I had to try making this.

      For this first time I used one bunch of kale,I washed and cut into thin strips. Split the stocks in half and cut them into 2 inch bites. Heat 1 quart of water and add 1/2 cup of Kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar, Stir to dissolve. Poured the mixture into a large container and add a little more then a quart of ice cubes to chill the water down. Add the kale to the container. Stir well, then weigh the kale down with a small bowl so the kale is submerged. Cover and place in the frig over night.

      24 hours later drain the brine off and rise the kale. You will see it is tender and wonderful to eat. It is not salty. The Brine helps break down the cells of the kale in the same way a brine can make tough meat tender. But this takes time. I think the next time I will let it stay in for 48 hours.

      I mixed the kale with black beans, red bell pepper, keenwa and a nice dressing. My veggie friends love it.

      I hope this helps you.

      4 Replies
      1. re: N5232P

        Thanks for getting the details. Were you eating at Chelsea Kitchen or L'grande orange?
        That is where I first had it too. They say the dressing is just really good olive oil and fresh lemon!

        1. re: Rlbow16

          Chelsea Kitchen! Great place, thanks for the dressing reminder, I had forgotten what they used. Can you remember if there was anything else in the slaw other than kale, black beans, keenwa? I added the red bell pepper for some color but they did not have any in theirs.

          Becuase I forgot what dressing they use, I tried this one from another kale dish. If you like garlic, you will like this.

          1. re: N5232P

            I had a different version late last year from there. In addition to the kale ribbons there were grapes, corn, red bell peppers, sunflower seeds and Reggiano cheese! Also fantastic!

        2. re: N5232P

          Wow, thanks for the detail. I'd never have thought about actually brining the kale in this manner. I make a knockoff version of a kale salad served at many korean-owned salad/food bar lunch spots and I bet the kale would be even better if brined as you describe.