Dock in Yogurt (Borani)


Dock (Rumex crispus) is almost always the first plant up here in great enough quantities to more than nibble. This year was no exception. In fact, I wandered into a particularly fine patch of dock while looking for cottonwood buds, and have been harvesting that spot with delight for nearly two weeks. I have a theory that shady spots are best for picking dock, especially this time of year. Shade both keeps the dock from getting too tough, and keeps the bugs too cold to nibble it.

While dock has always been one of my favorite wild foods based upon its lemony-spinach flavor and abundance, it tends to suffer a bit upon cooking, turning a dull army green. I fear it turns people off from enjoying dock.

I was trying to cook up a bit of dock in a hurry a few weeks ago, and stumbled upon a new technique that keeps dock a vibrant green. This method involved plunging chopped dock leaves into rapidly boiling water for 20-30 seconds, then immediately draining them and running them under cold water. This method offers the other advantage of giving you cooked and ready to go dock in just a few minutes without an oily saute pan to clean. Also, I'm not yet certain if it's due to the cooking technique or my fine new patch of dock, but I've not gotten that oxalic-acid fuzzy teeth feeling from eating dock this year.

This dish has been a staple in my home for a few years. It's so simple that I'm a little embarrassed to even call it a recipe. It's a traditional accompaniment to meals that hails from Iran. I think the tang of the dock gives it an extra level of complexity. For anyone scared off by either the dock or the word borani, this recipe is pretty much a wild foods version of spinach dip, so fear not. Dock borani will sing when served with stew, or lamb, and a steaming bowl of fragrant basmati. However, it's a versatile dish that can also serve as a veggie dip, a sandwich schmear, a sauce to all manner of meats, and it also loves to snuggle up to Mediterranean foods.

You can guild the lily when making dock borani by topping it with a sprinkling of dried mint (I don't care for mint, so usually use Monarda fistulosa), some toasted walnuts, and a drizzle of olive oil. But none of that is necessary. I usually keep this recipe bare bones and simple.

If you have fresh young garlic greens, they are really delicious in place of or in addition to the fresh clove or dried garlic here.

To learn more about identifying dock, check out these articles.
http://foraging.about.com/od/Foraged-Greens/fl/Everything-You-Always-Wanted-to-Know-About-Dock-Rumex-species.htm
http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.com/2012/03/wild-things-in-march-dock.html

You can see more dock recipes in this round up.
http://hungerandthirstforlife.blogspot.com/2012/03/wild-things-round-up.html#!/2012/03/wild-things-round-up.html

Dock Borani

2 c. thick whole-milk yogurt, seriously now, no low-fat
3-5 c. loosely packed dock leaves
1 clove garlic very finely minced, or 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt
pepper

1. If your dock is dirty, wash it. I'll admit that since I'm usually picking brand new growth from pristine places, and intend to plunge it into hot water anyhow, I rarely do this. Use your judgment. Sometimes washing is necessary. Don't do anything to make yourself or anyone you love sick.

2. Bring a medium to large pot of water to a rapid boil. From my experience, if you want to keep your dock bright green, it's important to achieve a rapid boil, not just barely bubbling water.

3. Gather your dock into one bunch on a cutting board, and coarsely chop it into 3/4" pieces.

4. Plunge the chopped dock into the boiling water. Use a spoon to stir it for 20-30 seconds, no more.

5. Immediately drain the dock into a sieve and start chilling it off with cold running water, stirring it with the spoon as necessary. Leave it to drain.

6. Gather the whole lot of dock into a ball and squeeze out as much water as possible. Grrrr, muscles!

7. Place the dock back onto your cutting board, and chop through it in both directions one more time, just to make sure there will be bite-sized pieces in the yogurt.

8. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, along with the cooked and chopped dock, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. I'll tell you that I enjoy quite a bit of both salt and pepper in this dish.

9. Refrigerate the dock borani for at least 3 hours before serving, overnight is better. This allows time for the garlic to penetrate the yogurt. Otherwise, you'll be tempted to dump more garlic into it, and you'll knock peoples' socks off.


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