Sunday, April 02, 2006

Poke Salad

At market on Friday, one of the stands had pokeweed shoots right next to the asparagas. It never surprises me to see bags of nicely cleaned dandelion greens, but this is the first time I've seen poke. It shouldn't surprise me, since older folks around here like their wild greens, but it just wasn't there before that I can recall. Now if they carry Jerusalem Artichokes next fall, we'll be in business!

The following is from The Forager's Field Guide, from Billy Joe Tatum

Pokeweed phytolacca americana

"In fact, the poke plant contains phytolaccic acid in the leaves, roots, and stalks as well as the berries; there ismore in the roots and the red outer skin of the mature stalks than in the mature leaves. Until the flower head forms, the young shoots and the leaves are a fine pot green. The acid is easily removed from the greens by parboiling them, then cooking them in fresh water. I also prefer to parboil the young shoots. If all the colored skin is peeled off - and easy operation, as it stirps off readily - it is not necessary to parboil poke stalks.

Poke is not only a widely distributed plant but a large one, so there is no shortage of green vegetables when it can be located. If you are new to foraging for poke, look for last year's stiff and broken stalks, then watch for the new young sprouts to appear at their bases. If you pick often and break back the fast-growing plant, you can assure yourself of a crop that often continues into summer. It's not unusual to have another fresh crop of sprouts in the fall, too."


Anonymous said...

Not knowing what it was but fascinated by such a pretty vegetable (its as if anime drew asparagus), I bought Poke at my local farmers market a couple weeks ago (in Clark Park, W. Philly). I treated it as asparagus and in cooking and baked it for a short while in some nice oil and wrapped it with a bit of parmesan and it was simply revelatory. What a wonderfully unexpected part aspargus/bitter radish flavour it has! Is this cultivated at all or does it only grow wildly? I would certainly snatch it up if I saw it again. A great combo of raw beauty and taste.

Tina Sams said...

I don't think that it is something grown commercially. Sounds like you've been won over to the wild side :-).
Most folks boil poke in two changes of water to get rid of the bitter flavor.


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