Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Curried Hakurei Turnips

First things first -- these turnips are adorable. I know that’s not saying much, considering what turnips usually look like, but these are really the Hello Kitty of turnips. Small, plump and bright white. I wish I’d taken a photo of them before I chopped them up, because then you, our readers, would understand better why I spontaneously bought a vegetable that I had a. never heard of before and b. had no idea how to cook.
When I decided to make them I had to Google “Japanese white turnips” since I had managed to forget the name between buying them and bringing them home. I learned a few things -- like the fact that these turnips are sometimes called Tokyo turnips, or kabu, and that they are are a popular hybrid due to their mellow flavor and hardiness in colder temperatures.
Most of the recipes that came up were variations on a theme. Onions, the turnips, and sometimes chopped apple, cooked with curry and served with lemon wedges. In some places the recipe was credited to the Vegetarian Times cookbook. A couple of the sources were CSA Web sites, so I guess these little guys are popular with CSAs. And it makes sense -- they’re a mild root vegetable available in June, something to add to the mix besides just salad greens.
So I decided to make a version of this curry recipe, despite some initial misgivings,. I used a red onion instead of the recommended white because the white onion I bought for this recipe was commandeered by my husband for a (sadly, ill-fated) corn risotto. I used a non-apple version because it seemed like overkill and a little too autumnal for a muggy day in June.
Even in mid-cooking I was already coming up with a ton of other ways I’d like to cook these turnips -- they seem pretty versatile. After eating the dish I’m even more sure they could be used in a variety of ways. Stir-fry, definitely. But also, perhaps, grilled with some other veggies on shish kabobs and served with some sort of curry-lemon sauce? Yum.
I will definitely buy these turnips again but probably for a main course, not the side dish I made, which was flavorful but not especially innovative for such a cute and unique vegetable.

One chopped onion
2 tablespoons oil
5 or 6 harkurei, peeled and sliced thin (all the recipes said to peel them but it seemed sort of pointless, since they were so tender throughout)
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
one lemon, cut into wedges

Sauté the onion in the oil for a few minutes until translucent. Add the turnips, the curry powder and salt and cook until everything is tender. Squeeze some lemon juice over the dish before serving and serve with extra lemon wedges.


What A Card said...

Oh, yummy! I think I had the same thing in my CSA distribution, but they called them "spring turnips". "The Hello Kitty of turnips" sounds about right to me! I ended up roasting mine with snap peas and garlic scapes (two other items in the CSA distribution), and they were delightful. But I suspect my husband, the king of curries, would like your recipe better!

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Christine said...

I just got these in our local CSA, and I bookmarked your site to try your recipe and then forgot (story of my life) and just roasted them with olive oil and salt in an aluminum foil packet for 50 minutes and sauteed the tops (greens) in garlic and oil and it was outstanding!
Your description is just about perfect and next time I'm going to try your idea - well, I'll try to remember!