Thursday, December 09, 2010

Tokyo Turnips

My, oh my. I'm so digging my new love affair with Tokyo turnips! In case there was any doubt, an old dog *can* learn new tricks. I don't know how I managed to go forty-something years without these root vegetables in my life, but I'll tell you - now that I've found them, they are here to stay!

First, I bought some to include in a vegetable stew I was making. I'd had them once before at a catering job I was working at, where they were pickled Japanese style and I remembered loving them. I suspected that these turnips, so small and delicate, looked like they'd be good in my stew, instead of the larger ones that have a purple tinge.

After cleaning them and dicing them, I ate a cube raw. And then I ate another, and another, and another, until there were hardly any left to go into the stew! They have such a delicate flavor, so wintery and crunchy, sweet and juicy and a little bit spicy. They remind me of a cross between a radish and a turnip, and I find them totally addictive. And I love that you can eat them raw, or cook them. When you cook them, they become even more delicate and almost buttery. And you can, and should, cook the greens, and even the stems. There's nothing not to love about these babies!

So I put them into my stew, and they melded beautifully. And the next night, I put them into an Indian-style stew with black-eyed peas, kabocha squash and coconut milk, and they were the star of the show. At least, the ones that made it into the pot and weren't eaten raw while I was cooking.

I would post a recipe for how to use them, but really, I think the best way to eat them is to enjoy them raw, or lightly steam them, greens, stems & all, and sprinkle with a little salt.

Since they grow well in colder weather, I'm thinking I'd like to try to grow them in my garden, if I could ever find a way to keep the dang squirrels from destroying everything that is planted out there!

For now, I'm just happy to be enjoying something new to me, something delightful that thrives when the weather is cold and the sunlight is scarce.

Until next time, I'll just be over here inhaling my Tokyo turnips with a big, dumb grin on my face!

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