Rhubarb with duck liver and red cabbage
I’ve seen so many Rhubarbs on my local farmer market this early summer. The minute my eyes caught their beautiful color, my curiosity started to “roar”. Since we don’t have Rhubarb in Viet Nam, this green is totally new to me. I asked several local people how they eat Rhubarb, and most say they make Rhubarb pies, Rhubarb tarts or Rhubarb crumbles. It makes sense to me why people use Rhubarb for sweet dishes. The vibrant red color combining with its nuanced scent of berries is a great complement to any summer dessert. Do you know that in many places, Rhubarb is considered as a fruit rather than a vegetable?
However, I am not in the mood for a sweet pie today. Also, I want to have Rhubarb more often in my eating because of its nutritional values. A sweet treat once a while is fine, but too much will cause problems. So, I know I want to make something different. I want to turn Rhubarb into a savory dish. The idea was inspired by a sour green which grows wild in Central Vietnam. The name of the green is Lá Giang, literally means River Leaf. We often use Lá Giang for Canh Chua (sour soup). Canh Chua is a must-have summer soup for lots of people living in Central Vietnam, including myself.
It is very important for us to have all the tastes including salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami in the food in order to satisfy our five different types of taste receptors. When you miss one of the five, you will have the intention to use sweet or salty foods to compensate the others. I’ve noticed that my body begins to crave fresh and sour foods when summer is about to come. According to Vietnamese traditional medicine, sour foods help to cool the body down and clean the liver which makes them perfect for the hot days. Do you see how amazing human body is? It knows exactly what it needs to thrive.
Let’s talk a bit about the nutritional values of Rhubarb
Rhubarb is packed with fiber. If you don’t want to get stuck in the toilet for hours, then get more fiber in your diet is a must. Also, Rhubarb is a wonderful source of plenty vitamins and minerals. Vitamins include vitamin C, B complex, K; minerals include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
What more have I found? Polyphenolic flavonoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Wow, that is impressive! That means if you eat Rhubarb often you will less likely to worry about fast aging and weak eyesight.
So, let’s get some Rhubarb, and send some love to our eyes. Shall we?
- Rhubarb: half stalk (you can add more depending on how sour you would like it to be)
- Free-range duck liver
- Half of one red cabbage (add more if you want)
- One green garlic or red onion (I use red onion because I love the color, but use any other types you like)
- Sea salt or Himalayan salt
- Olive oil/ Coconut oil/ Duck fat
- Black pepper
- Chilli flakes
- Cut Rhubarb into small pieces (it does not have to be perfect because the Rhubarb will be cooked into “puree” form anyway)
- Slice the green garlic/onion thinly
- Slice cabbage into small strips
- Heat the pan, add your fats, then add green garlic/onion and stir until fragrant
- Add Rhubarb, and continue stirring
- Add duck liver (you can cut the liver into small pieces to help speed up the time), cook for 5 minutes on high heat until the duck liver is no longer pink.
- Add a pinch of black pepper, and chili flakes
- Add the sliced cabbage, then put the lid on, lower the heat to medium. Add more fats or water if you need to prevent burning. Cook until you see the cabbage is soft
- Season with salt, and your favorite herbs
Ta-dah! All done.
Don’t eat Rhubarb’s leaf. It is considered poison. The leaf contains a high level of oxalic acid, a substance has been known to cause kidney problems and stomach irritation.
Cook rhubarb with meat will help the meat to tender faster because of its acid content (same as you cook meat with pineapple).
When choosing duck liver, make sure you have good quality, free-range, fresh and healthy liver. Since the liver is the organ which helps process toxicity out of the body, liver coming from unhealthy animals could be a hidden source of pesticides and antibiotics. The color of a healthy liver is vibrant and smooth. Talk to your local farmer or the seller about the quality. Livers are an excellent source of vitamins A, B12, B6, Biotin, folic acid, copper, and iron.
The quality of the salt you use also very important. Sea salt and Himalayan salt are my favorites. They contain trace minerals, and they taste delicious. Beside fresh or dried herbs, salt is the only thing I use often in my cook. No other seasonings needed if you have a good salt on hand.
Last but not the least, cabbage is a powerful vegetable for liver detox.
Robb, H. F. (1919). “Death from rhubarb leaves due to oxalic acid poisoning”. J. Am. Med. Assoc. 73: 627–628.