If you happen to be making a list of (or song about, coffee table book on…) the world’s filthiest and/or ugliest vegetables, please make sure to include salsify on your list. Would you just look at how ugly these things are?!? But, through the miracle of Photoshop, look how purty I made them.
I jest. No Photoshop trickery here, just some peeling, boiling, mashing, mixing, pattying and frying.
Truth be told, I’d never even heard of salsify when it arrived in last week’s Farmbox delivery. By looking at them I wasn’t very excited. But then I took a whiff. I couldn’t believe it. The damn things smell exactly like oysters. Now, I was pretty excited by this because I thought I had had one of those remarkable moments of olfactory clarity that generally elude me when I’m tasting wines – this was my pencil shavings, my old leather chair, my fill-in-the-blank-thing-you-read-in-wine-tasting-notes-that-you-never-get-when-you-taste-it. I was ecstatic! Elated! I ran to my laptop and Googled “salsify”.
Check out #3 in the results:
Right? Yes. Original? Not so much. Take it? Yeah.
So once I realized that I had a big bag of OYSTER plant, that set my mind to thinking. What fun thing could I do with a plant that at least smells like seafood?
My first thought was to make fake oysters using molecular gastronomical techniques a la Ferran Adria. But then I remembered that that would be the very height of fussiness and would very likely suck in the process. No good. So then I thought that it might be fun to riff on a Thai fish cake, Or…wait a moment…a Maryland Crab Cake! And you know what? That’s what I did.
Chop the ends off the salsify, scrub vigorously, peel and boil in salty water until tender as you would a potato for mashing. Next, mash the salsify with a fork, potato masher, or other blunt object, adding salt and pepper to taste. Chop up a few tablespoons of apple into small matchsticks and mix in with the salsify. This should be tasting good now, so if it doesn’t you need to season it better. Form small patties with your hands – think small crab cakes. Next, dust the patties in panko – I used Italian breadcrumb style panko, but any would do. Heat some olive oil in a skillet until almost smoking. Place the patties into the hot oil and let them cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes, careful not to let them burn. Flip once and let them cook for another 4 minutes or so. Let them drain on some paper towels for a minute or two.
Serve with a little drizzle of Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce and a little fresh cilantro or other leafy garnish. I only had Italian parsley, and it served the purpose (though cilantro would’ve been far better.)
The result was quite good. The apple and the salsify worked well together. It reminded me a bit of a potato galette.
—Shawn Traylor, farmboxblog.com