Thursday 29 January 2009

Wild Food Guide 'K'

Wild Foods Guide 'K'

This is the eleventh of my series of 26 postings on wild foods. Each post will deal with a separate letter of the alphabet ('K' today) and will describe a wild food beginning with that letter as well as presenting a classic recipe incorporating that wild food.

Today I'm dealing with the letter 'K', the eleventh letter of the English alphabet, which includes foods such as Kale, Kenilworth Ivy and King Bolete and many others. Today, however I am going to devote this page to Kale (sea) and King Bolete.

The Sea Kale (also known as seakale), Crambe maritima, is a halophytic (salt-loving) perennial plant of the Brassicaceae (cabbage/mustard) family that grows wild along the coasts of Europe, from the North Atlantic to the Black Sea. It has large fleshy glaucous collard-like leaves and abundant white flowers. The seeds come one each in globular pods. For consumption the plants are covered in spring with soil, sand or a pot or box. This induces them to produce hick blanched leaf stalks, each topped with a small leaf which can be cut and prepared in a similar manner to asparagus.

Although Sea Kale naturally grows near the salt spray of the ocean it can esaily be propagaged from seed and grows well in just about any garden where it makes both an attractive architectural plant and an interesting vegetable. The plant can also be grown from root cuttings.

Here I present a classic modern Asian-inspired fusion recipes for a dish of clams and sea kale cooked in a miso broth :

Clams with Sea Kale in Miso Broth

400g clams (any kind)
8 stalks of sea kale
4 tbsp sake or rice wine
1 packet of miso broth (or 1 tsp Miso paste in 300ml Dashi)
1 piece dried seaweed (use crumbled nori)
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

Blanch the sea kale in lightly-salted water for about three minutes, until just tender. Refresh in iced water then dry.

Make 300ml miso soup (either properly with Dashi and Wakame or from a packet, at a pinch). Heat through and add the seaweed. Set aside to keep warm.

Add the clams and sake (or rice wine to a pan) along with the lemon zest. Tightly fix a lid and steam until all the clams have opened (discard any that do not open at this stage). Sieve the cooking liquid from the clams to the soup broth, add the sea kale and allow to heat through.

To serve add the sea kale to a deep bowl and spoon the clams over the top. Pour over the broth and add the lemon juice then serve.

This recipe is reproduced, with permission, from the Clams with Sea Kale in Miso Broth Recipe from the Fusion Recipes collection of the Celtnet Recipes Collection.

If you are interested in recipes for Sea Kale then you can find a range of Sea Kale recipes.

King Bolete Boletus edulis, (also known as Porcini, Cep or Penny Bun) is a member of the Boletaceae (Bolete) family of mushrooms. It is a native of Europe and North America and is Europe's second most sought-after fungus (after truffles). The smaller ceps are most sought-after as the whole mushroom can be consumed and they retain their flavour when dried. Older specimens tend to become maggot-ridden and slimy. But the cap of a fully-grown penny bun can reach 25cm in diameter and may weigh up to 1 kg. One such specimen in good condition is more than enough to comfortably feed four.

With its pale stem and russet cap the cep is hard to confuse with other species, indeed it can only really be confused with other members of the same family, none of which are in the least toxic. The only one to look out for is the Bitter Bolete Tylophilus felleus which has brown stalks and cap and can be distinguished in that the gills bruise brown when pressed (it's not toxic, just too bitter to be pleasant). Because of this the cep is one of the safest fungi for the novice to forage for. Penny buns are found in woodlands (typically brich, oak beech and pine) and are available from late summer to late autumn but are most abundant in September and October. They pickle well and also dry very well. Young ceps are excellent raw, or simply fried i a little powder. Dried ceps can also be ground to provide a condiment or a flavouring for soups and stews.

The recipe presented below is for a classic Italian recipe for a soup based on King bolete (Porcini) mushrooms.

Ligurian Porcini Soup

250g fresh, wild porcini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1.5l chicken stock
250g angel hair or taglierini pasta
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste

Bring the stock to a boil then add the mushrooms. Return to a boil then immediately add the pasta and cook until al dente (about 20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper, ladle into bowls and sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

This recipe is reproduced, with permission, from the Ligurian Porcini Soup Recipe from the Celtnet Italian Recipes Collection.

If you are interested in recipes for King bolete then you can find a range of King bolete recipes.

This guide is brought to you in conjunction with the Celtnet Wild Food Recipes collection.

You can find more wild foods beginning with the letter 'K' on the Wild Food Guide for the letter 'k', part of the Celtnet Wild Food Guide.

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