Inventory, bunch : 0
Chidori kale grows in tightly compacted heads that are filled with frilly striated leaves. They are a medium sized kale averaging 20 centimeters high and 10 centimeters across. Leaves at the center of the head are rich shades of solid fuchsia and magenta, while those around the outer edges are bicolored, tipped in dusty blue-green. Chidori has a chewy texture and a very robust cabbage flavor, especially when eaten raw. When blanched in water the flavor slightly mellows, but the fibrous stems remain tough and should be removed.
Chidori kale is available in the late winter and early spring.
Chidori kale is a vibrantly colored ornamental variety that is scientifically known as Brassica oleracea. In the horticultural trade it is traditionally grown as a decorative garden plant, but it is also entirely edible though somewhat more bitter. Most ornamental kales are a descendant of Scotch kale, Chidori being one of the most ornately ruffled and richly colored. The amazing display of color comes from anthocyanin pigments which are turned on as temperatures drop.
Chidori kale is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, beta-carotene, magnesium, potassium, protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber.
Chidori kale may be used similarly to other purple or green varieties, but it is prized for its visual appeal as a raw garnish. When harvested young, the tender bicolored leaves are an attractive addition to mixed green salads. They are great carriers for peanuts, almonds, tamari, chiles and other Asian ingredients like sesame oil and ginger. The fully mature leaves of Chidori lose some color when cooked, but far less than other colored kale varieties. They may be steamed, braised, stewed, fried, sauteed, and even baked like a chip. They are great in hardy soups which contain smoked meats, potatoes, beans or barley. Other flavor affinities include, bay leaf, oregano, thyme, red pepper flake, nutmeg, shallots, onion, tomato, sweet potatoes, cheddar cheese, Parmesan, cream, roasted meats, chorizo sausage, pancetta and chicken.
It should be noted that the roots of some kale varieties, such as Chidori, are poisonous.
Decorative kale, like this Chidori variety, was most likely developed in Japan where hybridized ornamental Brassicas are of extreme high quality. Chidori kale will grow in warmer climates, though cold weather is what induces the richest of colors in this vibrant plant. Ideal color saturation for this variety usually occurs in late fall when temperatures fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. At first, intense shades of blue and green develop on the perimeter leaves, followed by shades of pink, purple, red and white towards the heads’ center.