We can’t help but notice that this tuber has been quietly replacing the humble potato as the carb component at some restaurants here. The Jerusalem artichoke, or sunchoke, is not at all related to the globe artichoke nor does it resemble anything like it. The flesh is nutty and crunch, which may remind you of turnip, and it’s versatile like the potato – roasted, grilled or turned into a soup, it’s all delicious.
We’ve never heard of tilefish until we had a chance to sample them not once, but twice within a week. Its tender white meat is sweet and mildly-flavoured, so it pairs well with stronger sauces. The most interesting part of the tilefish are its scales – when deep fried or grilled, the scales crisp up and provide a delightful crunch. It is so addictive that the Japanese actually serve just the scales as a bar snack!
A popular spice native to Middle East, sumac is actually made of up ground berries of the sumac plant. The deep maroon hues of sumac imparts not just a beautiful colour, but also a tangy flavour that works well as a marinate, dry rub or just sprinkled over salads.
Is it a leaf? Is it an oyster? It’s both! We’ve never had the honour of tasting it before so we wouldn’t know, but going by what we’ve heard, it does taste like an oyster. Briny with a whiff of the ocean, we doubt it’s going to convince us to give up oysters, but it will sure make a great novelty garnish. It’s also pretty rare – it only grows in some areas of the Northern hemisphere – so don’t go trotting to your nearest supermarket hoping to score some.
Ice Crystal leaf
Looking like Jack Frost has visited it, the Ice Plant Leaf calls drier areas like Egypt home, which explains the little crystal-like beads dotting its leaves – they are actually water sacs used to store water. When eaten, they pop to release a salty flavour. We’ve only seen it once as a garnish, but we’ve heard they do well sautéed too.