The vegetable oyster, salsify

While I was getting some vegetables from our local shop, I spotted these long black roots….

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I’d been wanting to try it for ages as I had been told it tasted like oysters and that one of its other names was the vegetable oyster.

 I love oysters. One of my favourite places in the world is  Tasmania where we have spent the past two  Christmases and one of my favourite things to do is to sit on the harbour edge, eating freshly caught oysters, bought straight from the boat. I would get a a dozen or so  for lunch and just sit in the sunshine, looking out to sea and eating oysters.

So… if there was a vegetable that tasted like oysters….. maybe I could pretend? OK, so I am probably at the farthest point from the sea it is possible to get in England and this is definitely not summer but I have a vivid imagination……

How on earth could a vegetable taste like an oyster? I thought I had better find out.

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Under that blackened, dusty and hard skin is a white root. You need to peel it clean but as it is rather slender, use a peeler to keep the peelings as thin as possible. You don’t want to waste anything.

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Salsify blackens easily, so I read, so it’s one of thise vegetables you need to cook in acidulated water to keep it white. What that means is that you need to put a lemon in the pan – I always use the already squeezed half of one – there’s enough lemon in that to do that job and it saves using another.

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So, peel it, cube it and pop it all in a pan

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Apparently, the way to do it is to boil it till tender and then saute it…

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Well, here goes…. start melting some butter

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While the butter is melting, drain the salsify…

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Pop it in the pan….preliminary nibble reveals no taste of oysters.

Maybe the sauteing would reveal an oystery taste?

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And the answer to that?

Well, I can only assume that whoever thought they tasted like oysters didn’t eat them very often… or maybe oysters had a different taste back then. Maybe my tastebuds are deficient?

Salsify is nice enough – a bland taste with a hint of something… but that something isn’t oyster. I don’t know what it is, though. Sauteing it in butter helped, though I have to say frying anything in butter probably improves it.

Maybe I had a rogue batch? I don’t know. There seemed to be a lot of work involved for a rather innocuously tasting vegetable that needed two cooking processes to get it to the table.The Bear ate it – after all, he is omnivorous these days – and he agreed with me.

Maybe if we see it in a restaurant we will order it, where perhaps someone else will make a better job of it than me. Maybe one of you has already cooked it and knows a better method?

Well, for the moment, my curiosity is satisfied and I can put out of my mind replicating my Hobart happiness by eating a vegetable. I’d better get saving for the next trip………