I’m not sure where the idea that salsify tastes like oysters came from, maybe there was some sort of salsify marketing board back in the mists of time that thought it was a good idea… Don’t let it put you off! Salsify has a lovely, creamy flavour, obviously root vegetable, but much more subtle than say a swede (rutabaga) or a carrot. It does look rather like a long black carrot though! It’s always sold covered in soil as the pale flesh of the root discolours within a minute or so of being exposed to the air. So either work quickly to get it cooking, or drop it into acidulated water as you prepare each root (lemon juice or vinegar work well).
The ingredients we’ve paired it with may not seem like an obvious match but goodness me they all went together well! I’d always eaten lychees raw before, but cooking them altered the flavour, and they tasted like a mix of mandarin, grapefruit and grapes, really delicious!
If you can’t get salsify, baby turnips or mooli would work very well.
4 salsify roots, peeled and chopped into chunks. If you aren’t roasting it straight away keep it in acidulated water as it discolours quickly.
200 g tofu, pressed, dried on kitchen paper and cut into rough cubes
14 lychees, peeled, stone removed and torn into pieces
2 tbsp sesame seeds
150 g baby sweetcorn, halved
150 g broccoli, cut into small florets
5 x 5 cm piece of nori, torn into small pieces
6 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
2 1/2 tbsp tamari
3 tbsp mirin
150 ml water
1 tbsp cornflour, slaked
2 tbsp oil
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees c.
Put 1 and 1/2 tbsp of the oil in a large roasting tin and toss the salsify and tofu to coat. Roast for 20 minutes. Add the lychees and sesame seeds to the tin, mix carefully and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Heat the remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil in a wok and stir fry the baby sweetcorn, broccoli and nori for 4 minutes.
Add the ginger and cook for a further few seconds still stirring all the time. Next tip in the mirin, letting it sizzle wildly for a few seconds, followed by the tamari and water. Mix it all together and bubble for 1 minute. Add the cornflour and stir well. The sauce will thicken, cook for 1 more minute. Just before serving toss the roasted salsify, tofu and lychees through the sauce.
Serve with rice or noodles.
By A. and E.