Cooking and eating: Edward Lee's collard greens and kimchi
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 1:00PM
Ian Casselberry in Edward Lee, The Mind of a Chef, collard greens, food, kimchi, video

As you might expect, collard greens have become a much bigger part of my diet since moving to the South. Perhaps I just didn't notice before or things have changed since leaving Michigan, but I don't recall collards being plentiful at the grocery store and farmers markets, and certainly not at restaurants. 

I was a slow convert. The greens were typically a side with whatever barbeque meal I ate. Some places made the greens too heavy with pork and pork fat, while others took a lighter touch which I preferred because you could taste the vegetables. 

But since going to a low-carb diet, I've tried to mix up my vegetables as much as possible to avoid getting bored. So I've been eating more collards for those days and weeks when I just can't have another salad or any more broccoli. There are different ways to cook them, and I often prefer more Asian flavors like soy sauce and sesame oil with mine.

This week, I tried a recipe from Edward Lee on PBS' The Mind of a Chef (one of my favorite shows, especially season three, which features Lee) in which he adds kimchi to the collards and it's become an instant hit with me. 

As Lee says while cooking, the kimchi adds a crunch to the soft, wilted greens, which makes for an appealing combination of textures. But more importantly (at least to me), the tang and spicy punch of the Korean staple provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the greens and the saltiness that comes from the country ham. (I also used some leftover bacon that I had in the fridge.) 

Lee uses lard here, but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that. (I'm just not willing to go that Southern, maybe.) I used olive oil, which I hoped would keep the dish a bit lighter. And I actually forgot to add soy sauce, but with the salty pork and kimchi, I didn't really miss it. 

Collard greens and kimchi are my eating jam for the week. Here's how my version of the dish turned out.

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