Found at the Remond Saturday Market: Sunchokes
A “nonfibrous, plump tuber of a North American sunflower (Helianthus tuberosus), whose traditional and obscure name is “Jerusalem artichoke.” It’s pleasantly moist, crunchy, and sweet when raw, and becomes soft and sweet after brief cooking. When cooked for 12-24 hours at a low temperature, around 200˚F/93˚C, sunchoke carbohydrates are largely converted to digestible fructose, and the flesh becomes sweet and translucently brown, like a vegetable aspic.” McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking. New York: Scribner, 2004.
However, in spite of what appears to be sunchoke’s noteworthy taste, a word of caution regarding this tuber:
“The inulin is not well digested by some people, leading in some cases to flatulence and gastric pain. Gerard’s Herbal, printed in 1621, quotes the English planter John Goodyer on Jerusalem artichokes: ‘which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.’” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunchoke
Mr. Goodyer has his own less-than-flattering opinions about sunchoke, but I’d have to disagree with him (which is only the case because I thankfully didn’t suffer any gastric pains, nor hrmm foul the air as it were, after eating it). We tried the sunchokes steamed, which was like eating a water chestnut that tasted like artichokes instead of a water chestnut. Definitely worth a repeat; and now I’m actually curious to try it raw since it’s supposedly sweet and crunchy.