One of the coolest food items I was introduced to at the International Food Bloggers Conference [IFBC] last month was California Endive. Sure, I’ve seen endive before, and there is always some chef on television extolling its virtues, but I’ve never worked with it before, or even considered using it. All that has changed now though, and I love it!
Endive is a member of the chicory family. It has a crisp texture and a sweet, nutty flavor with a pleasantly mild bitterness, and can be served raw or cooked. Endive is also one of the most difficult vegetables in the world to grow, and requires a two-step growing process that takes a minimum of about 200 days to complete. (If you are as in the dark about endive as I was, pop on over to the California Endive website to learn more.)
California Endive sent us home from IFBC with little 3-packs of fresh endive, and by the time I carried my little treasures into the house, I knew exactly what I was going to make:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound Isernio's Premium Ground Chicken
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- ¼ cup hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
- 1 (8-ounce) can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 heads California Endive
- Cut a small slice (about ⅛") off the end and gently pull the loose endive leaves off one at a time. You will need to make a new slice every 2-3 leaves. Save the little slices. Stop when you get to the middle and the leaves are too small for appetizer boats.
- Chop the slices and middles up and reserve. You will use these in the filling.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground chicken, breaking it up as you put it in the pan. Cook, continuing to break it up, until done.
- Add onion, garlic and reserved chopped endive, and saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add ginger, vinegar, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and Sriracha. (Note: I hate grating ginger, so I usually just rough cut it and throw it into a small food processor with all the liquids for a few seconds. Then just pour it all in at once.)
- Stir in chopped water chestnuts and green onions. Salt to taste.
- Let filling cool slightly before proceeding - if you don't, you may cook your endive! (Voice of experience.)
- Fill each endive “boat” with filling.
- Garnish with a little chopped red pepper and green onion.
- Delicious served warm or cold.
Disclosure: I received free California Endive as an IFBC attendee. Furthermore, active Food Bloggers who attended IFBC received a reduced rate in exchange for writing at least three IFBC-related blog posts. All opinions are my own.