Green Curry Collards Recipe by Vivian Howard
I stumble around the question of how I find inspiration for new dishes because generally the process is more research than revelation. But when my friend Von Diaz made her collards braised in coconut milk on an episode of my show Somewhere South, I was blown away by the idea of collards braised in anything other than porky pot liquor. Von’s collards landed in my bowl dark green, earthy and a little bit bitter against a white backdrop of mellow, comforting coconut milk. They were familiar but different, and I was totally inspired.
Von sauteed her collards in oil before she got to the business of stewing them. Her reasoning was that it gave the individual leaves distinction in the same way that toasting the rice before making risotto makes each grain stand out. I thought this step was bogus at first but changed my mind when I sat down with my bowl of slippery collard soldiers aswim in a sea of coconut milk. Each leaf emerged on its own and my mind was changed.
Over rice, my version is more main event than side dish with green curry paste, ginger and onion for aromatic, round depth and the flesh and skin of preserved lime for its funky elegant brine. At the last minute, I throw in lots of herbs and lime juice because, for me, their high notes are what make the heat, sweet and mellow of curries stand out. Thanks, Von, for turning my head and encouraging me to look at collards through a different lens.
Green Curry Collards
- 1 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup green curry paste
- 8 cups tightly packed collard leaves, stripped of their stems and roughly chopped
- 2 cups water
- 2 cans coconut milk
- ¼ cup lime juice
- Zest of 2 limes, removed with a microplane
- Fresh mint and cilantro, to finish
- In a 6- to 8-quart Dutch oven, sweat the onions and ginger with ¼ teaspoon salt in the oil over medium-low heat. Once the onions are translucent, stir in the garlic and curry paste. Continue to cook for about 1 minute. Add the collards and the remaining salt and go about coating the greens with the curry mixture. They should wilt down a bit and glisten dark green.
- Pour in 2 cups of water, using that action to scrape up any browned bits that cling to the bottom of your pot. Stew, covered, for about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the milk and cook another 5 minutes uncovered.
- Just before serving, add the lime juice and zest. Once the collards are in your bowl, throw the herbs on top and submerge yourself in this blend of tropical comfort.
About the Chef: Vivian Howard created and stars in public television shows Somewhere South and A Chef’s Life, for which she has won Peabody, Emmy and James Beard awards. Vivian runs the restaurants Chef & the Farmer in Kinston; Benny’s Big Time in Wilmington; and Handy & Hot and Lenoir (opening spring 2021) in Charleston, S.C. She recently released her second cookbook, This Will Make It Taste Good: A New Path to Simple Cooking.