Two powers which this bulb possesses:
- It is aphrodisiac. It was banned to be consumed at Buddhism temples.
- Consumption should be limited to 4-5 bulbs a day. Overeating causes minor, unpleasant health problems.
Have you eaten sweet pickled, extremely crunchy, little garlic like bulbs, which are served with thick, stew-like Japanese curry dish? A little bulb is neither garlic nor shallot. It is rakkyo.
Rakkyo, belongs to the Lily family, Allium. Onion, scallion and shallot also belong to this family. Like other family members rakkyo has noted, unique taste and fragrance.
At the beginning of summer when the rainy season begins hitting Japanese islands fresh rakkyo bulbs appear at food market. Some of us pickle them at home. By doing so we can enjoy their fresher and better texture and taste of the bulbs, compared to commercially available counterparts. Home pickled rakkyo is also free from unnecessary synthetic chemical additives, which are always found in the commercial products.
The rakkyo plant was introduced from China as early as 3rd century AD. At early centuries it was used as medicinal plant. Chemical Allyl compound is said to help digestion, prevent blood from clotting and assist our body to absorb vitamin B1 efficiently. Rakkyo is also rich in water-soluble dietary fiber.
The most popular pickled rakkyo is AMAZU-ZUKE (sweet vinegar pickled) variety, in which we can enjoy a balanced (not overpowering) sweet, tart and salty flavor. Here is the recipe for you.
RAKKYO NO AMAZU-ZUKE
7 ounces rakkyo bulbs, thoroughly rinsed and cleaned, thin paper like film removed, and the very bottom root part and the top stem part cut off
1 ounce sea salt
½ cup vinegar
3 ounces sugar
Italian chili pepper flakes
- Place the rakkyo bulbs in a medium bowl and toss with the sea salt. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 days.
- Briefly rinse the rakkyo bulbs under cold running water. Blanch the rakkyo bulbs in boiling water for 10 seconds. Drain, spread them in a large strainer and cool. Transfer the cooled bulbs into a sterilized glass jar.
- In a small pot add the vinegar, sugar and ½ cup of water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over low heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Turn off the heat and add about ¼ teaspoon of the Italian chili pepper flakes.
- Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the cooled rakkyo bulbs in the jar. Cool and cover the jar with a fitting lid. Store it in the refrigerator. After 3 to 4 days of pickling you can enjoy the very crisp, sweet and tart pickled rakkyo. It is good for next several months. Remember to limit to the 4-5 bulbs a day!