After my kale chip experiment, I still had an abundance of kale slowly wilting in my fridge. Looking for inspiration, I turned to my massive trove of links to recipes I want to try and came across one that seemed almost too simple and plain to note: “Steamed fish on kale.”  Not only is the recipe title lacking in pretty adjectives, but I generally have an aversion to food described merely as “steamed,” as “steamed” often means “entirely lacking in flavor.”  Nevertheless, I figured I’d bookmarked it for a reason, and I have been trying to eat more fish, so I took a look.


The fish doesn't look angry, but man, is it steamed.

And then I came to a second reason to hesitate. This was a Mark Bittman recipe. Some people swear by How to Cook Everything and its vegetarian sibling (I own the former but have yet to actually open it), but Mark Bittman is also on record as being a douchebag. My experience with him, however, comes mainly from his Minimalist column for the New York Times and his NYT food blog, and my gripe is that his recipes frequently do not work. I have had them be such dramatic failures that it’s impossible to imagine that he, or anyone, bothered to test the recipe before printing it. One example is his so-called arepa recipe. As a number of angry commenters noted, no one who knows what an arepa is would recognize his recipe as one. I’m not well-versed in arepas, but what irked me is that the recipe just didn’t work—there was too much liquid, or not enough cornmeal, or some other major flaw that kept the recipe from being successful. (I eventually added a ton of cornmeal and the faux-repas ended up being rather tasty.) Other recipes were less disastrous but also seemed not to have been fully thought through.

So I approached “Steamed fish on kale” with trepidation, but I ended “Steamed fish on kale” with utter delight. First of all, dinner was on the table less than fifteen minutes after I started cooking. More importantly,  it was absolutely delicious. Butter, wine, and garlic create a perfect, simple sauce, first for cooking the kale and then for steaming the fish. This “steamed” dish is fresh and flavorful, not bland and wan. It’s a keeper.

Steamed fish on kale
Adapted from Bitten Blog

1 medium bunch kale, collards or other sturdy greens
1/2 cup dry white wine or sherry
2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
2 Tbs butter
Salt and pepper
3/4 lb cod or other white fish fillet, skinless
Lemon juice

Wash greens and shake dry, leaving some water on leaves. Fold leaves in half and slice out thick stems; rip leaves into rough pieces about 3-4 inches long.

In deep skillet that can be covered, place greens, wine, garlic, 1.5 Tbs of the butter, and salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium-high; cover and cook, checking to make sure mixture hasn’t dried out, until greens are just tender, 8-10 minutes or so.

When greens are just tender, place fish on top of greens, season with salt and pepper, and dot with remaining butter. Cover again and cook until fish is done, about 5-10 minutes more. Squeeze lemon juice over fish and serve.

Serves 2.