Recipe: Fried Leek Roots

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Fried Leek Roots (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

As I was cleaning leeks from Windrose Farm I noticed the extraordinarily beautiful roots dangling from the ends of the slender looooong stalks.   My first experience eating roots was a recipe I learned from  Edda Servi Machlin’s Cuisine of the Italian Jews.  The recipe utilized a part of the spinach usually thrown away, the  bottom of bunches of spinach where the stems come together.  All of the plant of a vegetable usually tastes like the vegetable.  Sometimes they’re more mild, sometimes more intense.  I was curious. I cut the roots off the leeks and put them in a bowl of water to soak.  Changing the water over 3 days cleaned out the soil bunched up where the roots meet the bottom of the stalk (name anyone?).  Don’t worry if your roots seem wiry and dry. They plump up with a good soak.

They were inviting me to fry them.  I experimented a little with dusting materials.  If you look at the photo above, starting at midnight and going clockwise we have:  chickpea flour, rice flour, coarse corn grits.  As you can see the rice flour is the most delicate, the chick pea flour gives a beautiful color and coats the roots a bit more.  The cornmeal lends an otherworldly alien look to the fried roots.  I fried in canola oil at 350°.  My favorite were dusted with chick pea flour.  More substantial, lovely flavor and better crunch.  Serve with steamed or baked fish or cold soba noodles.  It works with fresh garlic roots too.