People love food when it’s smashed. I’m sure you’ve seen kids with peas and a fork. Adults do it too. People love smashed food. These fried sunchokes are smashed. Well, first they’re smashed and then they’re fried. The end result is fried sunchokes that people will love.
I got the idea to try this because I’ve seen how much people love smashed potatoes. Maybe even more than they love mashed potatoes. Though that’s not necessarily a scientific fact, so don’t quote me.
Sunchokes (also called Jerusalem artichokes) are known to botanists as Helianthus tuberosus. They are the tubers of a type of perennial aster that looks like a small sunflower. The chokes themselves look a little bit like ginger root but they have a delicate, nutty flavor– somewhere between a water chestnut and jicama. However, when cooked they take on a texture somewhat similar to potatoes. In fact I often substitute them for potatoes in braised dishes.
Like potatoes, sunchokes are starchy. Or rather sunchokes are starchy like, because sunchokes aren’t actually a starch. Rather, they’re a root that stores inulin, a naturally occurring complex carbohydrate (like sugar) which accounts for their sweetness. Whatever the the actual science is– sunchokes fry up beautifully . Thinly sliced fried sunchoke chips are delicious. As I said, sunchokes make great substitutes for potatoes. I plan to try sunchoke latkes very soon. I’m sure they’ll be terrific too.
What I like best about these smashed and fried sunchokes is the way the edges get super crispy and the interior stays soft and almost fluffy. I served mine salted with micro-greens and a soft Crescenza cheese from Bellwether Farms. Which made these smashed and fried sunchokes a terrific first course for a dinner party. However, there’s no need to get that fancy if you don’t want to. Like all fried foods, as long as they’re served hot and salty, they’ll be a winner. GREG