Whenever I feel the need for culinary entertainment I head over to 99 Ranch Market (notice I didn’t write Ranch 99—that’s not the name). Along with favorite treats (garlic roasted peanuts, custard tarts, and manzana bananas), there are always stop-me-in-my-tracks surprises. This time in the produce department I found myself staring at two items: green Filipino eggplants and green daikon. Then I noticed the kohlrabi, which I’ve certainly seen and enjoyed, but they just seemed particularly Martian to me that day. All these greens which weren’t leafy at all, found their way into my basket and then my kitchen. Enjoy.
I’ve eaten Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai… you name it when it comes to eggplant. But I’d never seen Filipino eggplants, and they’re stunning. These were long with a green hue mingling with the expected purple to create a gorgeous palette of skin encasing a firm flesh. Now you probably have all sorts of ways you prepare eggplant, but as long as you have a Filipino eggplant, why not prepare Tortang Talong, a traditional Filipino eggplant omelet? My favorite recipe is at the blog Burnt Lumpia. Basically, you roast the eggplant till it’s charred, peel the skin, smoosh it down, dip in beaten eggs, top with ground pork (or chorizo), then drop it into a oiled skillet to fry on both sides. Top with Sriracha, serve with rice, and oh, wow! 99 cents a pound.
I hope you’ve played with daikon already. It’s a spicy long radish, often pickled, shredded into a garnish for Japanese dishes, or added to soup. Usually you see the white variety. But, that green variety is stunning, especially cut open. It’s as vibrant a green as you can imagine in produce. They seem to be spicier than the white but I still enjoy snacking on them raw. Try dicing it and making a quick spring salad with diced carrots, black sesame seeds, and sliced scallions, enveloped in a dressing of soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and a mild vegetable oil. 99 cents a pound.
I love this vegetable. It looks like it should be a root vegetable (actually with its odd antennae it looks like it comes from outer space), but, in fact, it’s a member of the cabbage family and grows above ground on a stem. Yes, it has German origins, but it also has a long lineage in Asia. And, if you can find them with the greens still attached, buy them and enjoy the greens sautéed or stir fried. As for the bulb, which is reminiscent in flavor and texture of a thick broccoli stalk, peel and trim the root, then shred it and add to a slaw or salad or slice and roast with garlic and olive oil—and a dash of the fragrant Japanese spice mix Togarashi (red pepper, orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese peppers, seaweed, and ginger). It’s perfect for a curry, cooked down into a puree, or pickled. Very versatile and only 79 cents a pound.