Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kale, Pearled Barley and Faux Roe Stack with Sweet Soy Glaze

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I've had horrible insomnia for the past couple of weeks. Some nights, my mind wanders to innocuous places, and the tiniest thing is blown up into a super stress-filled drama in my head. Other nights, I am perfectly content, yet still can't seem to get to sleep. So I'm either tossing and turning, getting up to read at 3 a.m., stressing about something ridiculous or staring at the ceiling, bored to death. The other night, I had an especially hard time falling asleep, so instead of letting my mind wander to thoughts that would keep me awake, I willed my mind to do something more constructive and creative, which led to assembling a new dish for the blog in my head. I began thinking about this particular recipe, then dissected and reconstructed it—and the recipe here is what I came up with.

This turned out to be a fabulous dish that only looks like it requires a lot of work. The faux roe and sweet soy glaze can be made the night before, the pearled barley goes straight into the rice cooker and the lacinato kale only requires a quick and easy saute. Assembly in a ring mold isn't really necessary for the dish, as the flavors all work together well on their own, but it does make a nice presentation at the end.

for the faux-roe

3 medium-sized beets, finely diced
4 cups water
OR one bottle of prepared beet juice, unsweetened, like Biotta
1/2 cup amaranth grain, rinsed

for the sweet soy glaze
2 TB dark sesame oil
1 TB grated fresh ginger
1/2 TB grated fresh garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/2 cup sake
3/4 cup raw agave syrup
1/4 tsp xantham gum (not completely necessary for this recipe—if you don't have it, the glaze will still taste good.)

for the pearled barley
3/4 cup pearled barley
2 cups water
1 TB rice vinegar
1 TB sugar
1/2 TB salt
2 TB black sesame seeds

for the kale
1 tb sesame oil
2 cups of lacinato kale, cut chiffonade
1 TB white sesame seeds

To prepare the faux roe:
If you are using prepared beet juice, skip to the next paragraph. If you are using fresh beets, place them with the water into a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mash the beets with a potato masher, then strain. Reserve the beet pieces for pickling or roasting later.

Bring the beet juice to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Add in the amaranth and whisk well. Boil, uncovered for about 25 minutes, whisking occasionally to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. (The amaranth should be slightly al dente—do not overcook.)  Then, place the cooked amaranth with any leftover liquid into the refrigerator to cool and soak overnight.

About an hour before you want to assemble the dish, strain out the beet juice, and set it over a bowl to drain more. Slightly press on the top to get some of the extra moisture out.

To prepare the sweet soy glaze:
Heat the sesame oil over low heat. Add the ginger and garlic. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add in the rest of the glaze ingredients, except for the xantham gum, and bring to a very low simmer. Allow to reduce for about 40 minutes, lowering the heat if the simmer increases and stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and whisk in the xantham gum. Strain out the ginger and garlic into a container, then place it into the refrigerator. It will thicken slightly as it cools.

To prepare the pearled barley:
Place the barley and water into a rice cooker, and cook on the white rice setting. In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Once the pearled barley is done, transfer it to the bowl with the vinegar sugar and salt. Stir to combine, then sprinkle it with the black sesame seeds. Stir again and allow to slightly cool.

To prepare the kale:
Heat the sesame oil in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add in the kale and allow to soften and brighten for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with the white sesame seeds.

To assemble the stack:
Lightly grease a food ring mold. Divide the kale and spoon it into each of the molds. Press down firmly over the entire surface. Next, spoon the pearled barley mixture up to the top of the mold. Press down firmly, refilling it as needed. Once everything is tightly packed, press down on the top of the barley while pulling the ring up slowly and straight.

Next, spoon the faux-roe over the top of the stack. Top with microgreens if desired, then spoon the sweet soy glaze over the top. Serve immediately.


  1. Oh my gosh. This is just beautiful!!! I can't wait to try this!

  2. Absolutely stunning. Looking forward to trying it!

  3. This is absolutely stunning! Consider my mind blow, Erin.

    I can totally commiserate with you on the insomnia topic. I can be completely exhausted, falling asleep on the couch even, but as soon as crawl into bed, my brain is going a mile-a-minute, my heart racing. It is awfully frustrating and I'm sorry you're dealing with it right now. xx

    1. Thank you Kristy! That is exactly what is happening to me right now -- frustrating!

  4. Pure genius and obviously incredibly delicious. I,too, find myself getting up at 3am but not because of insomnia, I get an amazing amount done in the wee small hours of the morning and even though it does mean I am in bed by 8pm, I wouldn't miss my 4 hours of "ME" time in the mornings for anything :).

    1. Thank you! Sounds like a great way to get things done -- my husband is on a similar, although he is on more of a 4:30-5 a.m. wake-up schedule. : )

  5. this looks good enough to eat! I love the idea of giving colour to the amaranth this way, it looks so pretty - well done:)

  6. the color on amaranth looks so pretty! gorgeous food:)

    1. Thanks Richa! Beet amaranth does sparkle a bit in the right light! ; )

  7. This is now my dream dinner! Crazy beautiful...I love the idea of the beet amaranth!!! I have to try this.

  8. shut. up. whenever I need to be inspired, I come here. absolutely stunning picture, gorgeous presentation. I love what you dream up!

    1. I am so happy you like the blog! Thanks for your kind words. : )

  9. I just made this tonight. Another masterpiece! I have never eaten such incredibly beautiful food until finding your recipes. There was no amaranth grain to be found here--but I was able to substitute with a slightly larger bead consistency of Israeli pearl couscous. These came out so beautiful, and had more flavor and texture than I anticipated. One interesting thing I did...was notice that the glaze was pretty close to some of your tofu marinades. So I cubed some tofu and threw it in with the sauce to simmer for 40 minutes. Afterward, I sifted out the tofu and remaining garlic and ginger shavings into a wok and seared it till it reached a sticky-crispy texture. Absolutely delicious! The whole thing! Everything you make is as much a piece of art to the eye as well as the palate.

    1. I love your choices for modifications, Leila! I will have to try this out next time I make this -- so glad you enjoyed and thanks for trying it out!

  10. I just wanted to let you know I made this for dinner last night. It was WONDERFUL! Even my meat and potatoes hubby liked it. If you ever do a cookbook, I would love to be one of your testers:)

    1. Barbara, I am thrilled that you made this and liked it, and your meat and potatoes hubby did too! If I am lucky enough to do a cookbook one day, you sound like you'd be an awesome tester, thank you! : )


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