The Chinese artichoke bears no resemblance to the globe artichoke or the Jerusalem artichoke. The foliage is similar looking to spearmint. This tasty finger-sized edible root crop with its sweet nut-like flavour is a good winter vegetable - similar in use to the Jerusalem artichoke.
It is part of the mint family, with soft furry green leaves through spring, summer and autumn. It dies down over winter.
It is a relatively small plant, reaching about knee height. The edible little tubers run under the ground and form fat fingers over the summer. As soon as the leaves start to die down in autumn they can be harvested or left in the ground to hold over the winter months.
Don't peel them; just wash them. They can be eaten raw or cooked. Grate into salads and slaws or sauté them gently in butter.
Best planted in a sunny position. Weeding is necessary but it is important not to damage the root system. A sufficient water supply during summer is important. The storage of tubers is difficult. Harvest from April to August. Because of their thin skin, they can be stored only for a few days, about a week in a fridge.
The leaves can be dried and made into a tea. In China and Japan the roots are often pickled, either in wine or vinegar. In French cuisine, the cooked tuber is often served alongside dishes named japonaise or Japanese-styled. They are are often sauteed for soups, or roasted with meats, especially pork.
The Chinese artichoke is also known as crosne, Japanese artichoke, knotroot, and artichoke betony.
2 pounds crosnes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons salted butter
2 tablespoons coarse salt
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons chervil or parsley, chopped
Gently brush the crosnes, carefully removing any dirt. Place coarse salt and the crosnes in a towel; rub between your hands and rinse.
Place a steamer basket over a little water in a pot. Add the crosnes to the basket. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 5-8 minutes.
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottom pan. Add the garlic and cook until golden. Add butter and the crosnes. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until tender.
Garnish with chervil or parsley and drizzle with lemon juice.