On the Table with Hazel: Kale Salad

Photo by Hazel Oh

I think I had a pretty eccentric upbringing for an average Korean immigrant. My mum is as Korean as she is a hippy and I still to this day feel a strange guilt when I have not eaten enough leafy greens. I have lived in Aotearoa for 10 years now, and only in the last 3 years have I frequented the “normal” doctors; before then, I didn’t even have a GP. If I was sick, I was prescribed a healthy dose of rest and a hearty ginger and garlicky jook with a vitamin C after every meal rather than a swift trip to the doc with a baggy of antibiotics. It must have worked back then because I think I was much healthier than I am now. The only downside of the hippy-influenced lifestyle is the frequent visits to many holistic “doctors” whenever I was unwell. Soothing voices and herbal remedies are all good and well until you are charged 800 dollars for some bitter root juice and sugar pills. Sorry, Mum, it is what it is — We. Were. Robbed.

I like to joke about my mum’s lifestyle a lot but I still have much to thank her for. Whenever I feel the slightest chill or feel a little under the weather, I know exactly how to look after myself. She taught me how to cook healthy on a budget: something we don’t get taught about enough today! So whenever I feel the need to “dEtOx”, I whip out an old family favourite of mine. A kale salad.

Now, don’t turn your nose up at it so quickly — my kale salad comes blanched so she is still nutritious but delicious! I also heard my mum say at some point that raw kale is too complex for our stomach to digest fully and whatever my mum says goes sooo…

I have convinced many picky sceptics of kale that kale is in fact edible and delicious with the right love and care, and I think this kale salad is the holy grail of all kale salads as it has a Korean mom’s seal of approval. That, my friends is harder than any university degree.

My dressing and the fact that I blanch the kale is the key thing that sets my kale salad apart from others. The blanching process really improves the overall texture and the flavour of kale! It also adds a pop of colour to the dull leaves that make this salad extra cute. I add cucumbers and tomatoes during the summer time as they are in season and therefore are CHEAP! During the winter, I just grate a whole carrot and that usually does the trick for me. I also think that people don’t use enough soy sauce for their salad dressing. Soy sauce has such depth in flavour and I think you are seriously missing out if you don’t incorporate it into your daily seasonings.

I like to eat this with steak or any day I feel like I’ve wreaked havoc on my body. A bag of kale is 3 dollars at my local Pak’N’Save and you can honestly enjoy a whole bag with relish with this recipe; I guarantee it. You can add any type of crunch you want to here: nuts and seeds, and if I’m feeling bold I sprinkle some cranberries and cheese just to spice it up.

You want to feel instantly healthy but only have 10 minutes to cook? My kale salad is the one for you tonight!


Kale Salad


For the salad

  • 700g of kale (a bag of kale will do)
  • 1 cup of grated carrots
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber (optional)

For the dressing

  • 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of finely minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika (optional)



The dressing

  1. In your salad bowl, measure out the olive oil, soy sauce, and vinegar. Grate your clove of garlic and mix these together. Season to taste and if you want more of any of the condiments to heighten the flavour, then do so. Add the smoked paprika now if you want to.

The salad

  1. Wash your kale carefully and place it in a large bowl.
  2. Fill up your kettle to the maximum and let that boil.
  3. When the water comes to the boil, pour the hot water all over the kale. Leave it in for 20 seconds, making sure that the kale is fully submerged. The kale should go darker and brighter in green in colour and should lose its stiffness.
  4. Repeat the process if the kale still looks pale and is stiff, but this time let it sit for 10 seconds rather than 20.
  5. Drain the hot water and now let the kale rest in cold water — the colder the better. This will improve the colour and the texture. Leave it in there while you make the dressing and prep the other vegetables.
  6. Grate your carrots and put it in the salad bowl. Cut the tomatoes into bite-size wedges and put those into the bowl as well. If you are adding a cucumber, this is also the time.
  7. Now drain your kale of all water and shake off as much moisture as you can.
  8. When this is done, start chopping the kale into bite-size pieces. You can place the pieces straight into the salad bowl with the rest of the vegetables.
  9. Once you have all your vegetables in the same bowl, start tossing them together so all the pieces are evenly coated in the dressing.
  10. You can add the nuts and seeds and if you want to. I like to add some cheese at this point now or extra olive oil if I’m in the mood. You can customise it any way you want — enjoy!


About the author
Hazel Oh