I have found myself over the last month going for dim sum down in Chinatown with a bit more frequency than usual. Now, this is not new to my palate, and I have absolute requirements for the establishment I’ll take my midday weekend meal from. There must be a tofu skin stuffed with rice and vegetables, garlic chive stuffed dumplings and wilted Chinese broccoli with garlic. It is the latter that is haunting me.
I have been finding myself craving the taste of the browned, sliced garlic that laces those sautéed green. By mid-week I could not get the taste of this caramelized giant out of my mouth. Now, I grew up with garlic as an integral component of my mother’s cooking – and thankfully so. But never did she brown these cloves, which lessens its physical long-lasting effects, but in my case, leaves a potent desire.
It would be easy for me just replicate those drenched greens, however, it was not so much Chinese broccoli that sat at the front of my tongue. Going through the market it was Japanese turnips, a sweeter version of the more ubiquitous European variety that demanded I take them home and dunk in thin shavings of amber-hued garlic. While the autumnal weather keeps the hard frost at bay these colorless tubers will continue to fill my need to transport this aromatic candy to my ever-ready mouth.
Sautéed Japanese Turnips – serves 6
2 bunches Japanese turnips
4 garlic cloves – peeled, and sliced paper thin
2-tablespoons olive oil
1/4-cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Remove the green tops from the turnip bottoms, and save for another day.
Wash the turnips, and then cut in quarters.
Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over a medium heat and add the garlic and oil. Cook the garlic until golden brown.
Mix in the quartered turnips, and cook for fives minutes. Season the turnips with lemon juice, salt and pepper just prior to serving.