Monday, November 26, 2012

Roasted Japanese Turnips with Honey

I feel like this is one of those dishes that we tried where we spent the first few bites trying to figure it all out, the next few bites growing to really enjoy it and then I promptly got bored with it.  But let's be honest, who really enjoys every bite of an entire bowl full of turnips?  Even split between the two of us that is a LOT of turnips (particularly when you're not even sure that you really like turnips).  I have no complaints about the recipe itself - this post is more of a commentary on my poor planning in basically designing a meal around a vegetable that Alex and I are firmly on the fence about.  I have had some good turnips in my life (my school in China served a really nice soup with turnips in it and I love the little dim sum cakes with turnip), but generally they strike me as being a little lackluster.  The honey glaze really helped to tame the aggressive peppery flavor of the turnips and the cayenne pepper provided some lovely heat, but after awhile it all just got a little blah.  And the honey mixture really only coated the outermost layer of the turnip and didn't flavor the turnips as a whole.  I think I would have preferred pan-roasting (or oven-roasting) the turnips a little longer until they got a little crisp and developed a little of their own natural sweetness.  But I was afraid to burn them (or overcook them until they were soggy, although I have no idea if that is even possible with turnips) and once I added in the honey mixture I was afraid that the honey would burn if I left the turnips in the pan too much longer.  So I think the end verdict is that this dish is lovely as a side - it really does have a nice and interesting flavor to it, but unless you are a real turnip lover, you shouldn't make it the focus of your entire meal.  If you are a turnip connoisseur, then go to town and ignore everything I said.

Recipe after the jump!

Roasted Japanese Turnips with Honey
Cooking in the Moment:  A Year of Seasonal Recipes
By Andrea Reusing 

4 bunches (about 20 small) golf-ball-size Japanese-style turnips, stems tripped to 1/4-inch, sliced in half lengthwise
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp honey
pinch of cayenne

In a medium bowl toss turnips with 1 tbsp oil, s&p.

Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.  When it is hot, add the remaining 1 tsp oil and add the turnips.  Reduce the heat to medium and sear the turnips.  Saute, shaking the pan frequently, until the turnips are starting to turn golden brown, especially on the cut sides, and are almost tender but still slightly firm, 8-10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the honey and cayenne with 1 tbsp water.  Add this to the turnips and cook, tossing for another few minutes, until the turnips are tender.

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