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Chef Niklas Ekstedt's five ways to cook kohlrabi

Part of the same family of brassicas as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts, kohlrabi is a fantastic vegetable that’s popular in Germany and Central Europe but underused in the UK.

By Niklas Ekstedt
Published 2 Feb 2021, 08:00 GMT

The British kohlrabi season runs from July to November, but you can store it for longer if you trim off the leaves.

Photograph by Stock Food

I first ‘discovered’ kohlrabi in southern Sweden while I was running my first restaurant, in the coastal town of Helsingborg. The area is where much of Sweden’s root vegetable, cabbage and kohlrabi crop is cultivated. Part of the same family of brassicas as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and brussels sprouts, kohlrabi is a fantastic vegetable that’s popular in Germany and Central Europe. It grows above ground, but bears some resemblance to a turnip, with a bulbous green or purple stem and crunchy, white flesh that can be eaten raw or cooked. I prefer to keep it simple, letting the natural sweetness and crisp texture speak for itself. Flavour-wise, when raw, kohlrabi could be compared to celery or radish, and when cooked it’s milder and sweeter.

1. Grilled

Try cooking kohlrabi on a barbecue or open fire. Place it on a grill about 10-20cm above the flames (not embers) and cook for 15 mins until blackened. Serve with brown butter, toasted almonds and salt.

2. Pickled

In Sweden, we use a pickling liquid called ‘123’: one part white vinegar, two parts sugar and three parts water. Slice kohlrabi thinly, marinate for two hours and serve with garlic and herb butter alongside fish.

3. Raw

Keeping the kohlrabi raw lets you appreciate its mild, sweet flavour. Thinly slice and serve in a salad (it goes well with apple, sorrel and hazelnuts, for example) or as crudité with a hummus or yoghurt dip.

4. Seared

Peel the kohlrabi and cut in half before searing on one side in a cast iron pan over a high heat. This adds a delicate sweetness but keeps it crisp. It goes with chicken and fish, or instead of spuds in a potato salad.

5. Blanched

Cut peeled kohlrabi into wedges and blanch for about 30 seconds in lightly salted boiling water. This will keep the centre crunchy, and you can enjoy it warm as a snack with cold butter and sea salt.

Niklas Ekstedt is chef and founder at Ekstedt restaurant in Stockholm, and author of Ekstedt: The Nordic Art of Analogue Cooking (£40, Bloomsbury Absolute)

Published in Issue 10 (winter 2020) of National Geographic Traveller Food

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