Asian Greens


This is an Asian twist to cooking fresh  greens! In fact, this simple technique can be used for the many of the hardier greens such as beet tops, chard, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens,  collards, and kohlrabi leaves. Recipe from


  • Big pot of well-salted water
  • 1 bunch fresh greens - kohlrabi leaves, beet greens, chard, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Red pepper flakes (see TIPS)


  1. WATER Bring the water to a boil, be generous with the salt. Use a pot that's big enough for water and the greens, you don't want to 'pack' the greens into the pot, they need room to cook, plenty of space to swirl around in the boiling water. If need be, you can cook the greens in batches.
  2. WASH Meanwhile, wash the greens well under running water. If the greens are clean, a quick rinse will do. If they're just dusty, wash under running water, rubbing the surface of the greens with your fingers to clean. If the greens are extra dusty or dirty, soak them in cold standing water for several minutes to soften and loosen the dirt, then rinse under running water. As you wash the greens, throw away any greens that are extra tough looking or blemished.
  3. PREP With a knife, remove the stems and ribs. If you like, these can be chopped up and sautéed separately. Stack several leaves on top of one another, roll up into a 'cigar' shape, then cut cross-wise into ribbons.
  4. COOK Drop the greens into the boiling water a handful at a time until the pot is full but not packed. Chances are, you'll be able to add still more after a minute or two, as the greens begin to collapse in the heat. Cover and let cook until done but still bright green – the timing will vary based on the variety, age and thickness of the greens but will range from a couple of minutes to 20 minutes or so. I keep a fork nearby to pull out a ribbon of greens for a quick taste-test. Drain well in a colander, squeezing out the excess water if need be. If you like, chop the greens a bit more for bite-size pieces.
  5. SEASON Toss the greens with the sesame oil and soy sauce. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
  6. SERVE Serve hot if you like but I love Asian Greens cold, they're surprisingly good at room temperature. I would also make these ahead of time and then serve for a couple of days, stirring into salads, slipping into a sandwich, etc.

 CLEANING GREENS Time-wise, prepping and cooking greens can vary by a lot. If the greens are so dirty that they need soaking and careful washing, allow extra time. If the greens are less than perfectly fresh, or quite thick, allow extra time for cooking too.
 ASIAN SPICES The inspiring recipe from Culinate used a spice mix called 'shichimi' which I managed to find but might be difficult for many. It's a mix of red pepper, roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, seaweed and ginger. I liked it a lot, but it's the "heat" of the red pepper that makes it useful in the greens.
 PALEO & WHOLE30 So these special eating regimes make so much sense but man, it takes a bit to figure out what's approved and what's not. Both programs say that sesame oil is okay in moderation, a teaspoonful at a time, more like a condiment than a usual oil. For paleo, it shouldn't be cooked with but used as a condiment. Whew. Got it? Got it .

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