No Waste Food Recipe – Kinpira Kale Stems with Carrot (Japanese Style Sautéed Kale Steams)

Do you eat Kale Stems?

I do. I feel wasteful (mottainai!) if I throw them away as they are the biggest part of the Kale. Having said that, I also find it difficult to keep coming up with new ideas, apart from “just adding it to soup”.

Today’s recipe is for those who feel the same. I would like to introduce “Kinpira” method, that turns this potential food waste into traditional Japanese food!

Kale Steams and Carrot Kinpira
Kale Stem Kinpira by alittlebitofsoy

Kinpira is a Japanese side dish comprising julienned vegetables sautéed with soy sauce, sugar and/or mirin. Root vegetables (such as burdock, lotus root, carrot etc) are commonly used for Kinpira. You can enjoy the crunchiness of the root veggies in the Japanese signature flavour (sweet & savoury!). It is very simple, tasty and goes well with rice, bread, beer…, everything! Just a perfect Japanese home cooked side dish.

No fuss and no mess in this recipe. All you need o make sure is slice the kale stems thinly as the outer part of the stem can be tough. I like sautéing carrot together as the sweetness matches with the slightly bitter kale stems.

Next time you purchase a big bunch of kale, do not throw the stems away and try this recipe. You can bring a little Japan to your table…


  • 140g Kale Stems (about 1.5 bunch of kale) – thinly sliced at a diagonal angle.
  • 1 Carrot – julienned
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sesame Oil
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 100ml of Water
  • 1 Teaspoon of Cooking Sake
  • 2 Teaspoons of Soy Sauce
  • 2 Teaspoons of Mirin
  • 1 Teaspoon of Sesame Seeds


  • Prep for the ingredients. Thinly slice kale stems and julienne carrot.
  • Heat sesame oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Sautee the kale stems and carrot with a pinch of salt. Cook them for about 2 minutes or until the carrot has started softening.
  • Add water and put a lid on. Let them cook for about 3 minutes, or until the water has almost evaporated. Try a piece of kale stem to check if it has been softened. If it is still tough, add a bit of more water and keep cooking with a lid on.
  • Once kale stems are softened, add cooking sake, soy sauce and mirin. Stir all together for about 30-40 seconds.
  • Turn the heat off. Add sesame seeds to the Kinpira. This can be served both warm and cold.

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