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How to cook salsify

How to cook salsify

How to cook salsify

You may be forgiven for averting your eyes when coming across salsify. It's a rather ugly root vegetable, grubby-looking with all that earth clinging to the skin. But during the winter months, salsify makes a welcome change from parsnips, sprouts and cabbages.

So what does it taste like? The clue might be in its nickname. Salsify (Sahl-seh-fee) is known as the oyster plant or oyster vegetable. These giant pencils are members of the dandelion family, a Mediterranean plant with a delicate taste, ever so slightly sweet, some say slightly reminiscent of oyster. If I had to liken it to something, it would be an artichoke.

Salsify is perfect on its own, however it's also a natural with all sorts of other seasonal vegetables such as celeriac and mushrooms. The other issue besides the unsightliness, is the availability. Salsify is not easy to harvest; pulling the roots from the soil without breaking them is time consuming, making it a little hard to come by.

Unlikely to appear fresh in supermarkets, you will probably find a bunch in the weekly organic vegetable boxes or on farmer markets stalls between October and January. Encouragingly, salsify recipes are making a comeback on restaurants menu, after all, this winter vegetable was extremely popular with the Victorians.

The good news is that it is an easy vegetable to prepare and very fast to cook. As the taste is quite mild, this vegetable should please a cross-section of people but as with all things new, be prepared for a hung jury.

How to prepare salsify

Get a pair of kitchen gloves, an old newspaper, a sharp knife and a large bowl of cold water and a dash of lemon.

Peel the skin to reveal a milky white flesh.

Place in cold water to avoid discoloration while you are working through the lot.

Parboil for 6–8 minutes.

How to cook salsify

Get a pair of kitchen gloves, an old newspaper, a sharp knife and a large bowl of cold water and a dash of lemon.

Peel the skin to reveal a milky white flesh.

Place in cold water to avoid discoloration while you are working through the lot.

Parboil for 6–8 minutes.

Serving suggestions

As it is in season in the autumn and winter, salsify is often paired with game; Phil Carnegie pairs it with roast venison and parsnips while Martin Wishart serves it with pheasant and lentils. It is also great with roast meats like beef (try Robert Thompson’s Roasted sirloin of beef with a bone marrow sauce) or lamb (Richard Corrigan’s Roasted rump of lamb with salsify and wild mushrooms) as well as more robust fish such as turbot or shellfish like scallops and muscles.

 
 

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