Recipe: Seared Greens with Crispy Fried Onions, Pickled Kohlrabi, and Poached Egg

by Tsai

We’ve served ruby streak baby leaf mustard greens raw before because they are delicious uncooked, but we like this version even more, in which a few other ingredients are brought in to play off of the feathery texture and slight bitterness of the greens. (This was one of more popular dishes at our Pre-Valentine’s Day Brunch a couple of weekends ago.) We deal with each of the ingredients simply, and combine them at the end for a plate that’s varied in texture, flavor, and color while allowing the qualities of each ingredient to shine through. We quick-pickled the kohlrabi with rice vinegar, garlic, hot peppers, and star anise two days ahead of the event. Pickling endows the vegetable with wonderful flavors but also allows it to retain its refreshing crunch. An hour or two before service, we fried the onions until they were crisp and golden — the sweetness of the caramelized onions mingles well with the greens. We poached the eggs and seared ruby streak baby leaf mustard greens to order, and served these four ingredients with a good dash of freshly-ground black pepper and kosher salt. We think of this dish as a salad, because it is as refreshing to the palate as it is to the eyes, as good salads often are.  

Ingredients: kohlrabi, rice vinegar, cayenne peppers, star anise; onions, vegetable oil; ruby streak baby leaf mustard greens; egg, vinegar

1. Peel kohlrabi, which has been widely available at farmer’s markets, and cut into 1/4″ thick slivers. Place kohlrabi in a container along with whole garlic cloves, star anise, cayenne pepper sliced open, and a mixture of 1 part rice vinegar and 1 part water. Make sure that there is enough vinegar and water to cover. Refrigerate.

2. Heat a 1/4″ of oil in a frying pan, and fry a single layer of thinly sliced onions until they turn golden brown. Remove and dry on paper towels, separating the fried onions as they tend to stick to each other.

3. Poach an egg. We like to add a little vinegar to the water to help the egg hold together.

4. Right before serving, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a pan until just before the oil starts to smoke. Sear washed and dried ruby streak greens for 30-45 seconds on high heat, just long enough to cook the greens and render them a deeply saturated shade of green. Cook a single layer at a time, and do not overcook.

5. On a plate, make a bed of seared greens, sprinkle onions on top, followed by a poached egg. Lay a couple slivers of kohlrabi alongside the greens, and season the plate with thickly ground black pepper and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt.