Green Queen’s Definitive Guide to Kale in Hong Kong

6 Mins Read

December 2016 Update: Green Vitamin and Anything But Salads have permanently closed operations.

What do Snoop dog, Michael Jordan, Bill Clinton and Gordon Ramsay  have in common?  They are all less popular Google searches than kale!

Seems like everyone in Hong Kong wants to be a kaleista these days! Green Queen gets kale related questions so often that we decided to dedicate a whole post to the green goddess of the vegetable world.

Kale is a type of cabbage (though it is closer to wild cabbage than commercial cabbage) and is a member of the Brassica family- its cousins are cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and collard greens. Why is the world gaga over kale? Because the plant is a nutritional powerhouse: it is more nutrient dense per calorie than almost all other land plants consumed by humans. 1 cup of kale has more calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin K than most other foods we think we should be eating- kale can replace them all. It is great for cardiovascular health because it is packed with inflammation-fighting phytonutrients. Kale is often recommended to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as it is chocka full of antioxidants.

There are many types of kale – well over 50 varieties actually- but the 3 most relevant kale types for us Hong Kongers are curly kale, dinosaur kale and Chinese kale.

Kale Collection

JULY 2016 UPDATE: The Hong Kong kale world has evolved a great deal since we first published this post in 2013! We are happy to report that kale is now much more ubiquitous throughout our fair city and you can get your kale fix at many more places. Here are some important updates about the information listed further down in this post:

Curly Kale

Also known as kale and borecole. 

The most internationally recognized of all the kales, curly kale is currently enjoying It-vegetable status amongst foodies everywhere. Popularized by raw foodists across the planet for its use in green smoothies and as the ingenious favorite of raw (and non raw) snackers: kale chips! Curly kale has dark green or red leaves and is very bitter when eaten raw. For use in salads, it is best to massage it with some kind of acid. Luckily, lemon juice and kale are a marriage made in heaven. Curly kale works great in a light sautee with some olive oil and garlic or you can also steam it simply.

Where to buy it in Hong Kong

Regular curly kale can be found at Great Food Hall02H sells bunches of imported organic curly Kale in its Stanley Street shop thought it is best to be on their ‘kale phone list’ so that they can let you know when the shipment has arrived- they usually sell out within 48 hours. You can also buy imported organic kale at Natural Force, email Fion for more details. Green Vitamin is the most consistent source of locally grown organic curly kale but Eat Fresh (order through their website) and Homegrown Foods (order through their website) also offer them from their farmers. It is always sold out and you have to be on a wait list due to the high demand).

Fun Fact: Until the end of the Middles Ages, curly kale was one of the most commonly eaten green vegetables throughout Europe. 

Dinosaur Kale

Also known as Lacinato kale, Dino kale, Cavolo nero, Tuscan kale, Italian kale and black cabbage.

Dinosaur kale  has dark green leaves with a blue tinge and most describe it as more delicate and sweeter than curly kale. Known to farmers’ market aficionados everywhere, Dinosaur kale really comes into its own when cooked. Its Italian origins makes it a regular in pasta and country soup recipes.

Where to buy it in Hong Kong

This is not as commonly found here yet. Sometimes available in its raw form at  Great Food Hall and Olivers, there is no consistent source of imported Dino kale but we do have Green Vitamin,  which has started to grown organic Dino Kale locally.

Fun Fact: Dinosaur kale was discovered in Italy in the late nineteenth century.

Chinese Kale

Also known as gai lan, kai lan and Chinese broccoli.

Chinese kale is considered to be more bitter than broccoli in its raw form though it can be used in hardcore green smoothies/juices. Chinese kale retains its crunch when cooked and it is delicious when prepared like you would any other Chinese choy- steamed and served with oyster sauce or stir fried with ginger and garlic.

Where to buy it in Hong Kong

Buy it at any local wet market and most Parknshops and Wellcome outlets. If you want organic, you can get the Sarinah Organic brand at select Parknshops and Wellcomes. Eat Fresh, Homegrown Foods and The Organic Farm are online-only services that do local organic produce deliveries and can include it in your weekly basket. For a more comprehensive list of local organic or imported organic vegetable delivery services in Hong Kong, check Green Queen’s Guide to Hong Kong’s Organic Fruit & Veg Delivery shortlist.

Fun Fact: Broccolini is a man made cross between broccoli and Chinese kale. 

Kale Chips

Kale chips are most often made with curly kale though Dinosaur kale . Anyone who has ever tried them knows that they are absolutely delicious and completely addictive. They do not last long and Green Queen suspects that this is the main reason raw kale is constantly sold out in Hong Kong. Kale chips can be baked in the oven or made in a dehydrator (which means they are only subjected to temperatures of 115 C or below and they retain all their nutritional benefits).

Where to buy them in Hong Kong

When kale chips first became popular in Hong Kong around 1.5 years ago (only!), we had to make do with the imported ones available at Just Green, i-Detox,  02H, Food for Life and Nature’s Village. We are extremely pleased to report that Hong Kong now has its own locally made raw dehydrated (and delicious) kale chips. Get your hand on them from online only stores Culture Organics (they offer Anything but Salads‘s raw Chef Callie Goh’s kale treats) and Green Vitamin (conceived by Sesame Kitchen‘s Chef Shima Shimizu). Bonus: Green Vitamin‘s kale chips are made with their own locally grown curly kale.

Fun Fact: Kale chips are an extremely recent phenomenon- the earliest online mention is as late as 2005. 

Proud Green Queen Kale Moment: Both of these Hong Kong kale chips lines were first presented to the public at Green Queen’s first Made in HK:Local Artisans Pop Up last August 🙂

Cooked Kale

Green Queen’s Very Own Kale Chip Recipe

  1. Soak and wash curly kale.
  2. Prepare kale marinade: in a large mixing bowl mix 1 tbsp good olive oil, 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp Himalayan Sea Salt, 1/2 tbsp zaatar (middle eastern spice mix made of dried thyme, sesame seeds and sumac) -if you don’t have this, substitute for your favorite spice blend. Marinade to kale ratio: 1 recipe of marinade to 1 large bag/bunch of raw kale
  3. Remove leaves from stalks and tear off into large potato-chip sized pieces and add to marinade bowl.
  4. Massage leaves with marinade until all fully coated.
  5. Spread leaves evenly on baking sheet or dehydrator sheet.
  6. Bake at approx. 150 C) for 10-18minutes depending how hot your oven gets- watch closely- or dehydrate at 115 C for 10-14 hours depending on your dehydrator model.

Eat right away or store in airtight container for up to 5 days- though in our house, they never last more than a couple of hours. They are seriously addictive! Enjoy x


Image credits: elana’s pantry via photopin cc; photo credit: slowlysheturned via photopin cc; photo credit: etcher67 via photopin cc; photo credit: ilovebutter via photopin cc; photo credit: SweetOnVeg via photopin cc.

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