I think I’ve found the new kale.
Or at least something to hoard for the next few months alongside the crunchy-green masterpiece. And let’s face it, I eat a lot of kale, so some diversity in my diet –even if for a few weeks/ months/ whatever — will be a good idea (and Gabe can only handle so much of my crunchy-greens-obsessing I’m certain.)
If I judged on first impressions alone, I never would have dove into this long, dirty root. It’s one of the items that I’ve probably walked past in produce markets before, and never thought twice. But after reading encouraging reviews from the wonderful folks at South Mountain Veggies, I was convinced to at least give it a try. Heck, the worst that would happen is I would waste a few dollars and throw it away. I can think of many worse things.
And let me just say, this root will change your eating life.
It’s odd. It’s often called “oyster root” because of the odd flavor, but I don’t find to be all that oystery. I was expecting something lightly salty in spirt of the “oyster” reference, but didn’t quite find it. I will stick to the weirdness of it though. The best way I can explain it is a mix between a potato, turnip and onion all in one.
The skin and starchy texture is similar to Idaho’s favorite cash crop, but has a touch of sourness like a turnip, and then a peak of mild onion flavor.
At first, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. Should I mash it with some potatoes? Should I slice it and fry it in some herbed butter? Or maybe roast it? I came across this lovely recipe from The Guardian for Salsify Fritters and figured it would be a perfect safety step.
The first step here was to rinse and peal the salsify. The outer skin may not look all that appetizing, but once you peal it away, the pearly white flesh shines. Once all the skin was removed, I coarsely grated it.
Is anyone else as terrified of cheese graters as I am? Seriously, one of my biggest kitchen fears is of completely grating off a finger. And of course, as soon as the salsify got down to a small piece, my hand slipped and my thumb got a beautiful little cut on it. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad, but Gabe came running with a bandage as I whimpered on the floor.
So after the little “accident,” the shredded salsify goes into a skillet with some butter.
Once the salsify softens up, it’s time to take it off the heat. Since I just made Polish cabbage a few weeks ago, I was having some slight flash backs, since the softening root is really looking cabbage-like. Once the salsify comes off of the heat, mix it in a bowl with garlic, coriander, chili powder, egg, flour and pepper.
Heat up a bit of butter and olive oil mixture, then once it warms up, create equal-portioned cakes and slide them into the oil.
Since the salsify is already cooked, you are just going for unification of all of the textures and flavors in the fritter, and a beautiful golden coat on either side. Fry about 3 minutes and then flip.
These guys are looking pretty darn tasty after the flip. A couple more minutes, and they are plate-ready. Now, as I mentioned the other day, I often subscribe to the flip-more-than-once school of cooking to go for that perfect golden color. I actually steered clear of that this time, mostly because these fritters are fairly delicate, and I didn’t want to risk breakage before getting to the plate.
To complete the meal, I roasted some carrots in an herb and oil glaze. Also it was at this point when I (for some reason) was made aware of the fact that baby carrots were not born that way. It surely makes sense, but I guess I just never thought about these skin-less, perfectly formed shapes.
And as I mentioned above, the consensus? Amazing. Such a weird, unexpected flavor sensation. I think I probably could have done without the coriander, since that extra flavor is a bit strong. But we were happy diners that night. And heck, tonight I get a produce delivery, and what was the first item I added to my list? Salsify, and you should too.