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saltshaker

Strange Vegetables

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pepino1.jpg

This is not a sausage. It is, according to the young man who sold it to me, a cucumber. It has a brick orange, leathery skin. I felt it more likely to be some sort of root vegetable, or maybe a squash, but he was adamant. In regard to flavor he said it was similar to regular cucumbers, but different. He was right. The inside is a gleaming white color. The flavor is very intensely cucumbery, and the seeds and the pulp that surrounds them taste exactly like a tart, fresh lemon. I did a bit of online research and the closest cucumbers I could come up with were the Chinese Yellow and the Uzbkski (I looked at various types of Lemon Cucumbers, based on the flavor, but none I could find seem remotely like this in shape, size, or color). The former I could only find pictures of that were quite vividly yellow, though a couple of seed companies asserted that the cukes turn orange if left on the vine too long. It’s also described as having a very sweet, melony flavor. My cucumber didn’t seem past its prime, and the flavor profile doesn’t fit. The latter I could only find descriptions of, and one photo, and it’s described as “A fascinating heirloom from the Mideast country of Uzbekistan. Big, fat 6″-8″ cucumbers turn brown when ripe, very crisp even at large sizes.” My cucumber sort of fits that desciption, but it’s not fat, and it’s nearly 14″ long. I’m up for hearing from anyone as to just exactly what this is!

pepino2.jpg

Meanwhile, I foresee a lemony cucumber salsa for some grilled fish in its future.

Anyway, this got me thinking about other strange vegetables, or fruits, that we all might encounter shopping or wandering markets in various places in the world. I thought I'd start a thread for help in identifying them, or just sharing them.


Edited by saltshaker (log)

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man thats a weird cuke... :blink:

ever used crosnes before? we got some in a few weeks before, totally new to me. They're also called chinese artichokes, and have a flavore profile similar to jicama or sunchoke. We cooked them sousvide with bacon and thyme and they were absolutely delicious!

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I've cooked with crosnes a couple of times when I lived in New York. Haven't seen them here, but I do like them. Might be fun if you had a photo of them to post, as I'd bet most folks haven't seen them - and they are weird.

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Here ya go with the crosnes.

My sister's country place has a big patch of them that we dig up. It is sort of like a treasure hunt. We call the plant woundwort but it is the same thing. They are great in salads. I don't like to ruin the texture by cooking so we always eat them raw.

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While obviously I can't control what gets posted, my idea in starting this thread was for people to post strange fruits and vegetables that they actually come across and have in their possession as they travel or in markets near home. Then they could tell us what the vegetable or fruit tasted like, and how they prepared it, along with some pictures. It's too easy to just go off and search the internet for oddities and post links.

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Ok! Here is one of my favorite discoveries.

White bitter gourd

I found this in my supermarket in Japan where it was labeled as salad goya/nigauri (bitter gourd). Goya is the Okinawan term and nigauri the Japanese one they are used interchangeably. It is less bitter than it's green counterpart.

I found this 2 years ago and really enjoyed it but never ran across it last summer....

i11977.jpg

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Ok! Here is one of my favorite discoveries.

White bitter gourd

I found this in my supermarket in Japan where it was labeled as salad goya/nigauri (bitter gourd). Goya is the Okinawan term and nigauri the Japanese one they are used interchangeably. It is less bitter than it's green  counterpart.

I found this 2 years ago and really enjoyed it but never ran across it last summer....

i11977.jpg

I grew up in south america and we have this.

We call it sopropo or in america bittermelon.

I never used to like this growing up because it is a bitter vegetable but know i love it. I am able to get it in the asian grocery store near me.

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While obviously I can't control what gets posted, my idea in starting this thread was for people to post strange fruits and vegetables that they actually come across and have in their possession as they travel or in markets near home. Then they could tell us what the vegetable or fruit tasted like, and how they prepared it, along with some pictures. It's too easy to just go off and search the internet for oddities and post links.

was that directed at my post about snake gourd?

in that case, please read a little more closely and you would

see that i mentioned i *did* eat much of this when growing up

(in india), and that the taste was nothing noteworthy, (so

i didn't bother to post a recipe). it's a common home cooking

dish, and it's cheap.

it's not widely available where i live now, but we do see it

on annual holidays to my parents' house. so i don't have

recent pictures.

whether directed at me or not, your post was a bit rude.

milagai


Edited by Milagai (log)

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Here is one stand at one of the weekly markets in my neighborhood. Lots of interesting radishes. They are uniformly huge (imagine a red radish in the states that big...it would be wooden) and very sweet and tender, with the exception of the black radishes, which are hot as blazes, and hard-crunchy. They also "come back" on you for hours and hours afterwards. Evidently they mellow the longer you store them. They are a bit of a "forgotten" vegetable in many areas but are always around here. I use the big white ones to make kimchi, and have turned some Turkish friends onto it as well. The best to my taste are the ones with the pink insides; they are both beautiful and sweet/mild. The brown roots are Jerusalem artichokes. Also notice how long the leeks are! They hill them here, so that they stretch and you get lots more of the tender white part. Leeks are used a lot here, the most common way to prepare them is to simmer them with olive oil and a bit of rice and sometimes a little tomato and/or carrot; the dish is eaten cold with a squeeze of lemon over the top.

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/IMG_0528.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>

The next one is a type of gourd (probably a straight dipper gourd) that is brought from the area around Kastamonu. It's mostly used for stuffing, though I found you have to peel it because the outer skin is quite tough. I liked regular zucchini better.

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/MVC-074S.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>

The last is the most common type of winter squash sold here, known as "Adapazari." It looks a bit unearthly and can get quite large, but the taste is not much different from that of a hubbard.

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/MVC-072S.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>

I love the weekly markets; there is such a selection of really fresh, high-quality produce (not to mention other things, some of it really weird, like the little creatures below). They fill several city blocks each and are covered with tarps. I'm fortunate to have three different ones within walking distance of my house on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and another one on Tuesday perhaps 15 minutes away.

<a href="http://photobucket.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b60/sazji/MVC-008S.jpg" border="0" alt="Image hosting by Photobucket"></a>


Edited by sazji (log)

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I grew up in south america and we have this.

We call it sopropo or in america bittermelon.

I never used to like this growing up because it is a bitter vegetable but know i love it. I am able to get it in the asian grocery store near me.

Aren't you suppose to salt it and squish out liquid to get rid ofthe bitterness. that's at least what the Malaysians do.

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Malagai, it wasn't intended to be rude, nor, going back and reading what I said do I think it is, but if you took it that way, I'm sorry. It was, however, intended to hopefully keep this topic on the course I'd envisioned - as I said, I can't control that, but, I don't think it's any different than the dozens of posts on other threads by the original author wishing for the same thing.


Edited by saltshaker (log)

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AHHHH. Lumproot!!! They just keep coming back and coming back. They spread UNDER the other stuff in the garden, and when you start to till for the new crop, there they are.

Sweet and crispy, an old Southern staple in three-bean salad.

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My aunt wrote this column right after I read about crosnes here. I'm waiting back for an email from her to see if I can find them in my area. Looking forward to it!

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gallery_22836_2549_6309.jpg

we have been using okinawan purple sweet potatoes recently; while on vacation in boston i found them at Idlewilde farmers market (which rules) in littleton. have found them here in chicago only at a farmers market last summer downtown. they are not as sweet at regular yams, and take a LOT of cooking; they are quite starchy. good, though.

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gallery_22836_2549_6309.jpg

we have been using okinawan purple sweet potatoes recently; while on vacation in boston i found them at Idlewilde farmers market (which rules) in littleton.  have found them here in chicago only at a farmers market last summer downtown.  they are not as sweet at regular yams, and take a LOT of cooking; they are quite starchy.  good, though.

Ah, yes! They're quite popular in Hawaii and are grown locally here. Best ways to cook them, I've found, are by steaming or boiling. That way they come out moister. If they're baked or microwaved, they're very dry.

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I grew up in south america and we have this.

We call it sopropo or in america bittermelon.

I never used to like this growing up because it is a bitter vegetable but know i love it. I am able to get it in the asian grocery store near me.

Aren't you suppose to salt it and squish out liquid to get rid ofthe bitterness. that's at least what the Malaysians do.

I have seen people do that to back home.

My mom however never did that . She believed high heat was the key.

I agree with her but i also add tomatoes to get rid of the bitterness.

Another dish we make with these is to fill them with ground beef.

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In Japan they often either salt it, blanch it or use high heat. When I first started cooking with it I did all three. Now I love the bitterness and don't bother, but I do usually cook it over high heat as that is how the recipes are usually done.

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Here it comes onto the market every fall, but in its completely ripe, yellow state, opened with the red seeds showing. They call it "Kudret nari" (power/potency pomegranate) and it's more of a medicinal thing; nobody thinks of eating it as a vegetable. They do sell packs of seeds though and I may grow a few to see if they are one that is not horribly bitter.

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On the crosnes . . . We really like to go hunting for them. The time of year to do that is coming up. However, there has been an extreme drought in the area and we aren't hopeful. Even hurricane Rita didn't bring any rain. If we get anything, I will report here. We do use them in salads almost exclusively.

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Ah, yes! They're quite popular in Hawaii and are grown locally here. Best ways to cook them, I've found, are by steaming or boiling. That way they come out moister. If they're baked or microwaved, they're very dry.

Is there a way to fix the purple color?

Admittedly, the ones I usually get are not quite as completely purple as the photo above; but, when I cook them the purple usually turns kind of grey/blue.

I used some in dumplings this last weekend and it wasn't all that appealing.

If my camera was working, it might have gone in the gallery of tasty yet regrettable foods.

-Erik

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I picked up a flowering mustard relative that looked similar to broccoli raab at the grocery store the other day.

When I got it home, I noticed it was actually pretty different from broccoli raab.

It was leafy, like broccoli raab, with small flowering heads.

However, instead of being serrated, the leaves were entire.

Also, broccoli raab usually has distinct leaves and petioles (leaf stalks). On this vegetable, the leaves went all the way down the length of the sides of the petiole and actually wrapped around the stem.

Didn't take a picture, sorry.

Flavor was bitter and close to broccoli raab.

Anyone have any idea what it might have been?


Edited by eje (log)

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Ah, yes! They're quite popular in Hawaii and are grown locally here. Best ways to cook them, I've found, are by steaming or boiling. That way they come out moister. If they're baked or microwaved, they're very dry.

Is there a way to fix the purple color?

Admittedly, the ones I usually get are not quite as completely purple as the photo above; but, when I cook them the purple usually turns kind of grey/blue.

I used some in dumplings this last weekend and it wasn't all that appealing.

If my camera was working, it might have gone in the gallery of tasty yet regrettable foods.

-Erik

Usually with purple and reddish pigments, acid helps set the color -- works with purple cabbage, for instance. Maybe a little lemon or wine in the blanching water?

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I picked up a flowering mustard relative that looked similar to broccoli raab at the grocery store the other day.

When I got it home, I noticed it was actually pretty different from broccoli raab.

It was leafy, like broccoli raab, with small flowering heads.

However, instead of being serrated, the leaves were entire.

Also, broccoli raab usually has distinct leaves and petioles (leaf stalks).  On this vegetable, the leaves went all the way down the length of the sides of the petiole and actually wrapped around the stem.

Didn't take a picture, sorry.

Flavor was bitter and close to broccoli raab.

Anyone have any idea what it might have been?

Did it look more like this?

gallery_6134_2590_31854.jpg

from what I could find, this seems to be the Asian variant. In Japan it is called nanohana. I had always assumed it was the same but I have never seen broccoli raab in the US and looking at pictures I found it does look a little different.

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