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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.

                                  4. The "tabs" on really fresh raw scallops. Once they're cooked they're terrible, but when they're raw their texture is just meaty enough that they're actually...not bad. I'm certainly guilty of snacking on a couple when I'm faced with prepping a bunch of scallops.

                                    1. Burnt ends on brisket, actually most burnt pieces of grilled or bbq'd meats.

                                      The whites of watermelon rinds

                                      Cores of apples and pears

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Burnt ends, I'd say, don't count—they're not largely presumed inedible.

                                        The other two, though, you got me there. By cores, do you mean seeds and all? Doesn't that part, at least on apples, mess with your teeth?

                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                          Yes, seeds and all!

                                          Actually, it's not the seeds that trip me up sometimes, it's that nasty cavity membrane holding the seeds that really tough to gnaw through sometimes.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Ha! No wonder it seemed vaguely familiar. I blame age and copious wine consumption. Mostly the latter.

                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                              ah, oeno-amnesia. okay, you're forgiven ;)

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                I really should do a little research first. Wonder how many times I've done that.

                                                Still, some topics just keep on giving.

                                          2. Maybe not quite a "nasty bit" but I used to buy cold cut ends. A coupla places near me would vacuum pack an assortment (4-5) of ends that cant be sliced further for $2-$3. I scarfed the end of a capicolli after coming home at 2am. I woke up with one of the worst cases of food poisoning in my life (I actually wanted to die).
                                            I dont buy those nasty bits no more.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: porker

                                              I've bought assorted deli meat ends like that when vacationing in Canada.

                                              While we tend to associate food poisoning with the last thing we ate, that might not actually be the cause. For example: Listeria, the bug most associated with deli meats (and other cooked food that we eat without reheating):
                                              "Symptoms may begin a few days after you've eaten contaminated food, but it may take as long as two months before the first signs and symptoms of infection begin."

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Whether it was actually the ends or not doesn't matter to me...as you say, I associate to it and the association is still very strong when passing those critters in the cooler case.

                                                1. re: porker

                                                  We used to get those too until we started paying strict attention to the "best by" date. They're already at the end of their cute little nitrate lives and you're not going to take them home and freeze them, so if you don't gobble them down today...well, sick either way!

                                            2. For crawfish, I don't just suck the head but crack open the whole cavity and use a finger to push the whole mess into my mouth and then suck out what I miss- it's all tasty. I do pull out the poop vein though.

                                              Like Tatamagouche I think the pickle juice is the best part of a jar and good for hangovers. I also like the "old maids" at the bottom of the popcorn.

                                              39 Replies
                                              1. re: LorenM

                                                You mean like the only slightly popped kernels? Like those too.

                                                And of course the rice that gets all crunchy on the bottom of the pan, but I don't know if that counts since there are plenty of people that consider that the best part rather than inedible. I think there's even a word for it in Spanish.

                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                  The slightly popped ones are the best but I eat the unpopped ones too- darn teeth killers. My dentist loves me! And oh yes- the crunchy, nutty rice in a paella are divine!

                                                  1. re: LorenM

                                                    Unpopped corn kernels and pickle juice. Sounds like dinner to me.

                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                      Super Crunchy and salty and sour and salty- do you think I like salt or something?

                                                  2. re: tatamagouche

                                                    The crunchy semi-burnt rice at the bottom of the pan -- it is loved in Japan and is called "O-koge"

                                                  3. re: LorenM

                                                    Its like lobster tomalley - best part of the beast. Same for crab.
                                                    I know, I know, high in toxins, yadeyada

                                                    1. re: porker

                                                      I've tried, Lord knows I've tried, but tomalley is one of the few things in the world I can't stomach.

                                                      Tomalley, kiwi rind, and possibly tainted lunchmeat casing, huh? I think we have a winner.

                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                        Easy now, you're starting to sound like mrs. Porker on vacation {;/)
                                                        Actually tomalley, mixed with the roe and some rice from a Chinese style steamed lobster is very tasty.

                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                          A Maine bumper sticker: Vote Tom Alley
                                                          The Green Stuff Party.

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            I do not believe this. But I like it.

                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                              Why is it so hard to believe? Come see for yourself, Thomas.

                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                only had to read it three times, but ROFPMSL

                                                              2. re: FoodFuser

                                                                Believe! Red neck lobsterman humor. In that contest, not hard to believe.

                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                  Yup! The warning was just out in the local press. Avoid tomalley at this time of year due to red tide and the possibility of PSP. Sad about mercury too. What have we done to the sea.

                                                                  Vote Tomalley; The Green Stuff Party!
                                                                  Bumper sticker is SW Hbr, Me.
                                                                  Really large lobsters are illegal to catch in Maine and come from Canada. The big guys are the breeders. Fifty to sixty pound lobsters were not uncommon a hundred years ago. Now they were old!
                                                                  A 1 1/4 lobster is about seven years old.

                                                                  from an old thread:http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/530588

                                                                  Permalink | Report | Reply

                                                          2. re: porker

                                                            can you compare the taste to anything? I imagined it would be just incredibly briny.

                                                            1. re: Rodzilla

                                                              It's rich and very funky. (Wordsmith here.)

                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                I love the stuff, as well as crab tomalley.

                                                                Do people really not like that stuff? It's oceanic foie gras!

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  "It's rich and very funky. (Wordsmith here.)"

                                                                  It is rich and *somewhat* funky, a bit swampish, kinda like shrimp head but not as salty.
                                                                  I think the color and texture is mostly to blame for people not trying it.

                                                                  1. re: porker

                                                                    I always imagined it comparable to uni. I've had fried shrimp head, but can't really place the flavor.

                                                                    1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                      Actually uni is close and the texture is about the same. I generally eat tomalley warm so the flavour seems fuller than cold uni.

                                                                      1. re: porker

                                                                        Update, had crawfish for the first time last night - that head is delightful. I think I like it better than uni, I would love a sauce of the stuff. Must get more.

                                                                        1. re: Rodzilla

                                                                          Ya gotta hand it to the Pinch the Tail, Suck the Head folks!

                                                                      2. re: Rodzilla

                                                                        I agree also, reminds me of uni. Love crab "butter"... and eat shrimp & crawfish heads with gusto!

                                                                    2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                      In Norway, crab tomalley is much sought after. The tomalley is spread on bread, covered w/ crab meat and topped w/ a squiggle of may to make a Krab Smorbrod.
                                                                      Lobster tomalley is green and crab is brown.

                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                        FoodFuser hates to be a buzz-kill on tomalley,
                                                                        but when Dioxins are involved, I get a bit leery.

                                                                        Tomalley functions as liver and pancreas
                                                                        thus it's the storage place of toxins.


                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                          Yea, yea, I know, but life is short. Agent Orange, uranium mine dust, what's a little Dioxin gonna do?

                                                                          1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                            I just KNEW someone was gonna play the dioxin card (check my post about 13 up...). I agree with Pass here, I mean just last night, I consumed enough poison (1.5 bottles claret and a smidgen of white plonk) to kill some invertebrates, whats a little dioxin, yadeyada.

                                                                            1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                              I have been aware of the function and dioxin worry, but this is Maine, "the way life should be!", not Long Island Sound or Boston Harbor! Just like bacon's shadowy reputation, I choose my battles, er I mean foods.

                                                                      2. re: Rodzilla

                                                                        I have always thought it closest in taste and texture to a fried clam belly (with the batter peeled off).

                                                                      3. re: porker

                                                                        My grandmother - a Mainer from out past Bangor - would always eat the tomalley, and she'd gladly clean up everyone else's, I never could stand it when I was a kid, and I haven't had lobster since I left New England. I may have to give it a try the next time I think to have lobster.

                                                                        1. re: BabsW

                                                                          And don't forget to eat the roe, if ya got a female. Think Pink!

                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                            I've never had lobster roe, but I have had the roe from other seafood, it's always been good. :)

                                                                          2. re: BabsW

                                                                            Alng w/ the tomalley, if you get a female and it has a bunch of slightly hard red stuff where the tail meets the head, it is roe; better than the tomalley, in me 'umble opinion.
                                                                            Psst, the town of Passadumkeag is north of Bangor.

                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                              I like mixing the two, tomalley and roe - rosé of the crustacean world. If you ever open a fresh lobster, the roe looks especially nasty; blacker than india ink.

                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                Small world! My grandmother was born in Enfield, and my mom in Old Town.

                                                                                Thanks for the tip on the roe. :)

                                                                                1. re: BabsW

                                                                                  "Hey Bartender, Passa-dum-keag!"
                                                                                  The Wicked Good Band

                                                                                    1. re: BabsW

                                                                                      Thanks for the link! Valuable tools...

                                                                        2. I eat the stems of maraschino cherries and pickled okra. I figure they're pickled too, so why not?

                                                                          Also, popcorn old maids, broccoli, artichoke, and swiss chard stems, cheese rinds and... probably something else I'm forgetting.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: LisaPA

                                                                            can u tie the cherry stem into a knot with your tongue?

                                                                            1. re: porker

                                                                              Old trick of Japanese bar hostesses. But you need the cherry on the stem to do it.

                                                                              1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                " But you need the cherry on the stem to do it"
                                                                                First I've heard of this twist - kinda raises the difficulty...

                                                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                                                  Oh Tripeler, now you've opened a debacle
                                                                                  of how Nipponese hostesses can knot the peduncle.

                                                                                  Peduncle is stem, but I bet it means more to them
                                                                                  as them who can not knot bring in fewer tips
                                                                                  than them who can knot.

                                                                                  And thus it belongs here in "nasty bits".

                                                                                  I think I , and others,
                                                                                  would enjoy a firsthand gathered description of the process
                                                                                  of knotting a cherry stem by a Ginza bar hostess
                                                                                  with a sidebar to neophytes not yet been knighted
                                                                                  as knotters, What is the learning curve to leave the not knotters
                                                                                  and have certified control of the stem?

                                                                                  1. re: FoodFuser

                                                                                    Oh FoodUser, now you've piqued my curiosity,
                                                                                    this is the first I hear of the Geisha cherry knot.
                                                                                    ponder as I may the famed Ginza, my eyes so misty,
                                                                                    I am torn as the Geisha cherry knot I know naught.