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Dec 18, 2004 11:06 AM

Another Asian Vegetable Question

  • f

In our Asian market has appeared 1 to 2 inch brown and beige kind of tulip bulb shaped (with a stem) vegetable. I asked a customer what it was, but she did not know. She then asked one of the clerks, in Chinese, if he knew (he was more in the fish area) and he said no he didn't but he thought it might be a kind of potato. He said he thought they only appeared this time of year.

I bought four of them but now I'm not sure what to do with them. Any one have a clue?

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    1. c
      culinary nerd

      Sounds more like edible lily bulbs to me. I have not cooked them--but I am told they are wonderful.

      2 Replies
      1. re: culinary nerd

        Lily bulb sounds like a real possibility. It definitely looks like a bulb. Do you happen to know a web site that has a picture of one. I tried googling without any success. Perhaps I put in the wrong prameters.

        The fresh water chestnut is much darker than this item and has a shorter stem.

        1. re: Fort Point
          culinary nerd

          Yeah, I knew it wasn't water chestnut from what you were describing.

          I am not finding pictures of the edible lily bulbs on Google, either--but if you just search for a picture of a plain old lily bulb--that will tell you if that is what you are looking at. Having seen the edible ones and planted the ornamental ones--they look very, very similar. At a glance, there is very little difference, really. So, try that and see if it looks familiar. If it does--then, it is a lily bulb.

          I will look them up in my cookbooks and see what one does with them.

      2. You've stumbled upon an arrowroot bulb (called "see goo" in cantonese)! Coincidentally, I also just spotted and bought a bunch yesterday. When boiled, it is potato-like, excepting it has a uniquely different and sutble taste to it. How to cook it? Peel the skin and stem off of about 10 arrowroots. Then chop into quarters or finer pieces, say 1/4 or 1/2 cube size pieces will do. Next, get some Chinese cured bacon (lop yuk) and slice 1/4 lb to 1/3 lb of the bacon in about 1/4 inch thick or thinner slices. Put arrowroot and bacon in sauce pan, add water to fill about halfway to three quarters way. Add some oyster sauce, start with a tablespoon. Add a few drops of sesame seed oil. Bring to a boil and simmer about ten minutes to 15 minutes more until the arrowroot is softened. Make a mixture of water and corn starch on the side for a thickening agent and slowly add to contents till you have a thickened gravy to desired thickness. Test taste it. Add more oyster sauce to taste as desired. You're done! You can consume the results as is or you add one more step by getting some chilled iceberg lettuce leafs. Wrap a couple tablespoon of the arrowroot mixture in cold lettuce leaf and consume ala Moo Shu Pork w/pancake style. Try it, I think you'll love it!

        6 Replies
          1. re: CYL

            Yes, that picture is exactly what I purchased (arrowroot bulb). Thanks to all. My next adventure to the Asian market is to try to buy some Chinese cured bacon so I can try the recipe suggested.

            Assumomg I won't be using all the bacon, any suggestions of what to do with the rest?

            1. re: Fort Point

              Can be eaten by itself after steaming. Get a large pot, filled bottom with inch or two of water. Place bacon in a plate, then in pot elevated above the water. Cover pot, bring water to boil, steam for 10 to 15 minutes longer. It's done! Slice bacon into thin slices on a bias, ready for munching. The same process goes for Chinese cured sausages also. Enjoy!

              1. re: CYL

                You can cut into small pieces and fry in a little oil in a wok. Then use it as the meat in fried rice. Also if you have Chinese clay pot it can be an ingredient in the "lop" meat rice bowl. Along with the sausage and duck.

                WOW have not had that in a long time. Have to find the pot amd make it soon. Great for cold day.

          2. re: CYL

            Our recipe is very much like yours. But we thicken by taking out a couple (or more) of the arrowroot and mash it to thicken the gravy. Then the favor has even more arrowroot taste.

            We use to have arrowroot flavor for thicken until Mrs yimster told to use the whole arrowroot. She of course was right the favor was more dense.

            1. re: yimster

              In absolute comparison, arrowroot powder is superior to the common corn starch as a thickening agent because it is colorless (translucent whereas corn starch is somewhat milky) and its taste in thickening is less detectable than corn starch. The differences between the two is generally not noticeable except to the more discriminating. In chopping or cutting arrowroot, one will see that the arrowrrot has a brittle nature and does not divide cleanly. Many little slivers or fragments fall out with each cut. These smaller bits and pieces in effect inherently contribute and adds somewhat to forming a thickening gravy.