When I think of comfort food, my mind wanders into the realm of daenjang. It’s basically Korean miso–fermented soy beans–and you’ll find it in so many soups and stews. There’s an incredibly umami quality to daenjang that complements it nicely to hearty greens. Salty, smoky daenjang simmered with collards makes me forget momentarily that we are only in the middle of the week. Getting over that mid-week slump is my mission tonight, and since I’m adding barley to this stew, I think I’ll help myself to dessert afterwards. Who says eating greens is a chore?
- 1 bunch of collard greens
- 1 small onion diced finely
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- 1 tbs daenjang (Korean miso paste)
- 1 tbs vegetable oil
- 1/2 c pearled barley
- 2 tbs whipping cream
- 4 cups of water or chicken stock
- salt (add to taste at the end of cooking)
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/4 pound of country pork ribs (optional)
- Prepare collards by cutting out the woodsy stalk in the center of the leaf. You can also fold the leaf in half, and tear out the stalk. Chop into strips.
- In a stew pot, heat up 1 tbs of vegetable oil. Add onions and cook until soft. Add minced garlic and daenjang. If using pork, add to the pot at this time.
- Work the daenjang into the onions and pork until they are covered by the paste.
- Add water or chicken stock.
- Once the liquid comes to a boil, add strips of collard greens to the pot. Press down with a spoon. As the collards cook, they will shrink to fit in the pot.
- Add pearled barley, and cover the pot, leaving open a small vent for the steam to escape.
- Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 50 minutes, stirring the stew occasionally.
- Add cream and leave the lid off while cooking for another 10 minutes.
- Add salt to taste.