Sunday, March 05, 2006

My experiment with sunchokes

On a sudden whim, I decided to buy a small bag of jerusalem artichoke or sunchoke, just to see what they would taste like. I had read that it can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted, mashed, fried, etc - so it seemed like a pretty versatile and easily cooked vegetable. An important qualification, in my opinion.

There is enough information floating around the Web about this
root vegetable so I wont bother to give any information about it that isnt strictly first-hand.



The tubers looked exactly like fat pieces of ginger. Or like karana kizhangu , the fatter earthier cousins of cheppan kizhangu/arbi (not sure what either of these are called in English - there seems to be a bit of confusion about the right terms for them, and I dont want to make things worse). Phew, they werent slimy on the inside, although I was half-expecting them to be.



I'd looked up quite a few recipes on the Net for these sunchokes, but in the end I decided to just pan-fry them with Cajun spices and see how it worked out. I didnt peel them because they were well-washed to start with, and apparently they're like potatoes in that the nutrition is just below the skin, so peeling them isnt the best idea.

I have to say that they looked just like potatoes when they were cooked. The texture was not unpleasant either - some of the pieces were opaque and tasted firm but other pieces were softer and almost transparent in texture. On the whole, the taste was allright, I found... it wasnt like anything I'd ever had before. Nice, but not addictive. Maybe I've to get used to the flavour. Or maybe cooking them with Indian spices might make a difference - or perhaps making soup or mash. I'm game to try cooking sunchokes in other ways to see how they adapt, so I guess I'll be posting the results of other trials eventually.

One thing about sunchokes - they cook fairly quickly, and once cooked, they also turn from a firm texture to mushy quicker than you would expect. So basically keep an eye on them. Which is another reason why I'm wondering if soup or mash would be a better way to cook them, since they tend to go soft anyway.

Recipe for:
Pan-fried sunchokes/Jerusalem artichokes




Ingredients:

1 cup unskinned sunchokes, cut into small cubes
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
Salt to taste
2 tsp oil

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a pan and toss the cubed sunchokes in, stirring to coat well.



2. Sprinkle on the Cajun seasoning, close the pan and let it cook on medium-high for 5-7 minutes.

3. Remove the lid and check the texture of the sunchokes to see if they're cooked. When they're done to your taste, add the salt and stir. Serve hot.

4 comments:

bilbo said...

I saw the pic of the sunchokes and went in my mind, thats an ugly vegetable. But, the cooked version looks really nice . good for you , that u try so many new things. encourages me to do the same too. :)

lindy said...

Your blog is looking lovely.

You might like the sunchokes in a creamy soup. I think they have a subtle taste, rather like artichokes.
Also, raw, sliced thin they are crisp and nice, a bit like waterchestnuts,so perhaps they'd be good in a chinese style stirfry or even a salad?

shammi said...

Thanks, Bilbo! :) These experiments dont always work out, though!

Lindy: Thank you. Will definitely make sunchoke soup one of these days!

anonymom said...

I'm a little late to the party here, but I once had a salad that was sunchokes, peeled and chopped large, halved red grapes, chopped walnuts, tons of cilantro and lemon juice drizzled on top...it was divine! I tried to recreate it substituting apples for sunchokes, but it wasn't the same.