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Jun 23, 2011 05:31 PM

The nasty bits

There are undoubtedly lots of threads on this subject, but there are always new 'hounds with new perspectives as well.

Having just snarfed all the raw mushroom stems while cooking the caps, I'm wondering: be it animal or vegetable, are there certain ingredients whose supposedly throwaway parts you adore?

Another example: there is not a cheese rind I won't try, even if I'm not "supposed" to. Some of them bite back, but most don't.

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  1. I agree with you about the shrooms and the cheese rinds. Also, I'll add the leafy tops to the celery. I love those in green salads and when i make tuna salad with celery I'll chop up the leaves and toss them in as well.

    1. I don't see how people can throw away the fennel leaves and just use the flavorless bulb, if anything, I'd do the opposite.

      Also, just using the filets of the fish and tossing the rest. Good cooks know cooking the whole fish always results in the best flavor, and yes, that includes the head.

      16 Replies
      1. re: arktos

        I use both the bulb and the fronds of fennel. (But I've never had a "flavorless" fennel bulb.) I also use celery leaves in soups and salads. And mushroom stems always go into the stuffing for my stuffed mushrooms. Cheese rinds? I usually try them. The rinds of Italian cheeses like parmigiano reggiano, grana padano and the like go into he freezer for use when I make a soup.

        Then of course there are potatoes. I almost always keep the peel on unless the end result is to look "pristine white" for presentation sake.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          Yes, I peel/pare almost no veggies unless appearance absolutely requires it. Carrots are the exception, but it occurs to me I'm not sure why.

          1. re: tatamagouche

            Again, I only peel carrots if the presentation warrants it. Otherwise, why peel a carrot!

            1. re: ttoommyy

              I have no idea why subconsciously I sort of thought you "had" to peel carrots. The outermost layer doesn't taste different, right, the way cuke peels, apple peels, etc. taste different from the flesh? Surely I've tasted it before...

              1. re: tatamagouche

                For some reason I think a carrot has more of a carrot taste when you leave the peel on.

                1. re: ttoommyy

                  I do like to 'lightly' peel asparagus, the stalks become edible, and in my opinion, are really the best part.

                  1. re: arktos

                    Green asparagus doesn't need to be peeled -- just bend it gently, and the woody part will snap off cleanly, leaving you just the tender stalk. (I'd been doing it that way for decades, and that's how they teach you to prepare green asparagus at the Ritz cooking classes in Paris.)

                    White asparagus MUST be peeled. Tried leaving the peel on, and it was a bit like chowing down on the woodpile.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      where did i read somewhere (after having done that for years) that you end up wasting a good part of the asparagus? made sense to me, so i started cutting. i found when you cut lower (to a point) you still get the tender stalk, and more of it!

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Formerly I used the bend and snap method for green asparagus - but I saw someone, maybe Jacques Pepin using a vegetable peeler on the lower portion of asparagus stalks. I tried it and even the woody part became easily edible...

                        1. re: RWCFoodie

                          Yep, that's why I cut only the very end and peel the rest. I do the same with broccoli. The stems are the sweetest, nuttiest part.

                  2. re: tatamagouche

                    Carrots are something that I do not like unpeeled. I've been served them before and have always found the peel to have an unpleasantly bitter taste.

              2. re: ttoommyy

                What do you use the fennel fronds for? (Say that five times fast...) I hate throwing them out, but haven't been able to find a use other than garnish.

              3. re: arktos

                The texture of fennel fronds is not very appealing to me, nor is the flavor all that significant. I will use some, along with tougher stalks in stock. I use the tender part of the bulb for salads (usually), and chop the tougher parts up to use as a celery alternative.

                The same could be said for the green tops of scallions or leeks. or cabbage cores. Tougher parts can be used for stock, but even then you have to be careful not muddy the flavor by adding too many things, or worse adding a bitter or off flavor. It would a waste to spoil a whole pot of stock, soup or stew just to save some vegetable bits from the garbage can.

                1. re: paulj

                  Cabbage cores are delicious sliced thin with a little salt.

                  1. re: Riska

                    Definitely. Those are one of the cook's little treats. Haven't searched it but maybe there's a new thread here -- the bits that don't get out of the kitchen.

              4. Funny you should ask because we were just discussing on another thread what, after some discussion, were determined to be chicken kidneys. (It's still a tossup for me whether they're kidneys or lungs - I think they might be lungs.) Whatever they are, they taste of liver, and I love them. Most people think they're disgusting. :)

                1 Reply
                1. re: inaplasticcup

                  You can definitely have mine! But I agree with arktos and BabsW about fronds and leaves.

                  I should've added that I often buy jars of pickles for the juice, adding new brine as necessary.

                  1. re: beevod

                    Which reminds me - I also like chicken feet and fish eyeballs. :)

                      1. re: inaplasticcup

                        You and I probably could never dine together in peace ... esp. if we were to order chicken feet and fish head, unless we ordered 2 of each.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          ... or we had a chopstick duel. First person to disarm the other gets the spoils. En garde!

                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                            Forget that ... I would just pull a pistol on you. Just like Indiana Jones from the Raiders of the Lost Ark.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              <drops chopsticks and puts hands up...>

                                1. re: inaplasticcup

                                  tsk tsk, brings chopsticks to a gun fight...

                      2. I've been known to pick up other people's leftover wings/chicken parts and gnaw off the cartilage off the bones...

                        I'll also pick up and eat anyone's shrimp tails if they've left meat in it. Ditto for shrimp heads.

                        If I'm eat LA-style galbi and people haven't stripped the meat off the bones I will be the first in line. :)

                        Oh, and I eat almost every vegetable root-to-tip.

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: joonjoon

                          What about broccoli stalks? I love them, but those along with carrots I always peel.

                          1. re: tatamagouche

                            I *used* to peel and munch on the broccoli stalks as a cook's treat while I made dinner, but the dog offered me a deal I couldn't refuse -- I give *him* the broccoli stalks and he keeps his big hairy butt out of my vegetable garden (with the vet's blessing, by the way). At least he's a gentleman about it -- he even takes the stalks out to the front yard so he can't make a mess in the house.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I *used* to peel kiwi fruit, but I just eat 'em like apples, skin and all.

                                1. re: porker

                                  I don't quite know what to ask first.

                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                    ask away - hehe
                                    not ack fuzzy as you'd think.

                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                    Raw, peeled, broccoli stalks are my favourite part of broccoli. Why anyone would buy broccoli crowns is beyond me.

                                  3. re: tatamagouche

                                    I usually eat the broccoli stalks while I'm prepping them, I enjoy the crunch bitterness. otherwise I will slice up the stalk and use with the rest of the broccoli.

                                    I also love the little chewy nub that sticks to the shells on clams. Yum!

                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                      Broccoli stalks make interesting kimchi. Most cruciferous vegetables seem to take well to pickling.

                                      1. re: joonjoon

                                        I eat the stalks too, but I peel them. That's the question...

                                          1. re: joonjoon

                                            I cut the stem end off and eat them with a spoon, like eating a soft-boiled egg. No peeling, no fuzz.