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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salsifis – The Salsify or Oyster Plant on French Menus. The Salsifis in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

The white salsify flower. (tragopogon porrifolius).
The two familiar members of the family.
Salsifis – The Salsify or Oyster Plant is rarely on the menu in North America or the UK.  In Europe it is often served in a similar manner to asparagus, though; apart from its shape, it is not that similar to asparagus. This vegetable is also called the oyster plant; a name that was awarded by those who consider the cooked plant to have a taste or texture of oysters. I disagree with that. I think it is more like an artichoke heart, both in texture and taste, but then I am naturally argumentative. In Europe, salsify may be served as an alternative to potatoes as it is a white root vegetable looking rather like a thin parsnip. There is also a black salsify, which, when peeled, is also white and is less fibrous than the white salsify. The black or Spanish salsify is called scorzonera or scorsonère in France but on most menus, no attempt is made to differentiate between these two cousins as they have similar tastes and will be on most French menus as salsifi.

Peter Henderson & Co's seed catalog.
New York :Peter Henderson & Co. :1872.Peas, Salsify, and Radishes.

White salsify is a pale brown while black salsify (scorzonera)  unpeeles looks like a dark carrot and when cooked is much smoother. When their peel is removed they look very similar.

Sweetbreads, truffle, salsify and mushroom ragout
The two salsify plants are regularly on Northern Mediterranean and European menus.

These plants were already known and cultivated in Roman times. Nevertheless, in France, cultivation only began in the 16th century and even later in the UK where it was originally grown for its attractive flowers. Now salsify, both varieties, are being treated seriously as the tasty vegetables they are, and they will be on menus in France Italy, Spain, and Germany.
Black (Spanish) salsify ready for peeling and cooking.

Salsify on French menus:
Blanc de Turbot Sauvage et Salsifis Dorés au Beurre -  Filet of wild turbot served with salsify gilded in butter.

Côtelettes d’Agneau, Salsifis, Champignons, Tomates Confites, Poireaux  - Lamb cutlets, salsify, button mushrooms,  tomatoes cooked to the consistency of a jam and leeks.
Roasted leeks and salsify
Cuisses de Grenouilles, Vieux Gueuze, Ail, Salsifis et Persil Frog legs prepared in an old (two or three years old) Belgian Lambic beer cooked with garlic, salsify, and parsley.

Filet De Bœuf Au Romarin et au Thym, Salsifis Braisés – A beef fillet, a cut from the tenderloin, flavored with rosemary and thyme and served with braised salsify.
Black salsify on sale at a farmer’s market.
Grondin  Rouge Salsifis, Haricots Noirs, Portobello et Noisettes - Red Gurnard; a fish with firm, white flesh, and taste not too different to red mullet prepared with salsify, black eyed peas, Portobello mushrooms, and hazelnuts.

Velouté De Salsifis  Crevettes Grises – A veloute is a velvety soup, here made with salsify and sand shrimps.
White salsify ready for peeling and cooking.
The white salsify in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan -salsifi ), (Dutch -paarse morgenster, boksbaard ),(German –  haferwurzel , purpur-bocksbart,  schwarzwurzeln). (Italian –   scorzobianca, sorzonera), (Spanish –   salsifí, barba cabruna) ,        
Scorzonera hispanica, black salsify or Spanish salsify is also known as the black oyster plant is also a member of the sunflower family and likewise cultivated as a root vegetable.

Black or Spanish Salsify in the languages of France’s neighbors:

 (Catalan  -  escurçonera, escurçonera hispana ),(Dutch   -  grote schorseneer,  ), (German - garten-schwarzwurzel, Spanische schwarzwurzel), (Italian - scorzonera di Spagna  ), (Spanish - escorzoner), 

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Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2017
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

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