Kieth Farm’s Japanese Hakurei turnips sold by the farm itself at the Union Square Green Market in New York City are the very best quality turnips I know of. The flesh is smooth, juicy and is never rough or stringy. I buy one or two bunches (usually 5 medium bulbs with leaves in a bunch) every week for a traditional simmering dish and as part of a quick salad.
I cook turnips in a traditional way that will be of interest to you. By cooking the turnips in this way we can taste the ‘true’ flavor of the turnips.
Peel the bulbs removing the thick skin, reserving the skin for Kinpira dish (see my previous blog). When peeling, make the bulb into a hexagonal shape. Then cut each turnip into quarter wedges lengthwise. The wedges will have attractive surfaces because of the previous hexagonal preparation. Place the turnips and water in a pot and bring it to a simmer. Cook the turnips for about 4 minutes or until it is firm-tender. With a slotted spoon transfer the cooked turnips to an ice cold water bath to stop cooking. When the pieces are cold rinse them in the new water to remove any harshness. Prepare the turnips marinating liquid – a mixture of dashi, usukuchi shoyu (light color shoyu) and sea salt. Transfer the cooled and rinsed turnip to a new pot of simmering water to warm them up. Gently remove the turnip from the water, drain and add it to the prepared flavored dashi stock.
QUESTION for you: Why do we plunge the cooled turnips in simmering water to warm them before adding them in the heated flavored dashi? Why don’t we simply add the cold, rinsed turnips directly to the simmering flavored dashi stock?
Send your answer to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by December 4th. The first person who gave me the correct answer will receive a small gift from Hiroko’s Kitchen. I will announce it in the future blog.