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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Stinky, Edible Bulb

Amorphophallus konjac, Voodoo Lily Bloom

Amorphophallus konjac aka Voodoo Lily aka Shiritaki aka Konnyaku aka Stinky Flower

Today has been an interesting day as far as research goes.  If you haven't noticed, I have an affinity for the unusual and an empirical interest in edible flowers, and I found a doosey!

EatTheWeeds reports the plant to be of low food value.  But the low food value is precisely what has made the konjac corm so popular.

The Voodoo Lily has a huge corm from which a solitary flower slowly grows.  The flower can grow to be about 4' tall and according to many posts have an awful, rotting meat smell when in bloom.  However, it takes about 4 or 5 years for the corm to develop large enough to support the odiferous blossom.

It's Cormy, But True
Amorphophallus konjac, Voodoo Lily Corm

The Voodoo Lily will send up a flower when the corm is about the size of a large grapefruit.  Before that, it will grow what looks like a sparse tree with a leopard printed trunk and stems.

Interestingly, when the corm has started growing the stem from the center, it is ready to be replanted for the next growing season.  And, it prefers boggy type soil...  See where this is going?

After each growing season, the flower dies back and the 'tree' dies back.  It is then time to remove the corm from the growing medium and store it like any other potato.  This is a great segue to using the corm for food.

In the United States, we typically see the plain white highly gelatinous high fiber low calorie Shiritaki noodles. For the
Shiritaki Noodles, Konnyaku blocks
dedicated diet food hunters looking for something else, there is a less known tofu shaped block of Konnyaku.  I could only find the very bland and pale looking ita Konnyaku at our local Asiana Market.

Having tried the Shiritaki Noodles before and not feeling so impressed, I wanted to try the ita block and see if a different shape would suit me more.

A Chip Off The Old Block

Following the preponderance of instructions, the block was rinsed in cold water, scored on one side and half sliced the other half diced and thrown in boiling water for a good blanching.  After blanching, the slices and dices were tossed around in an un-oiled pan for 'dry stir frying' (rather than dry roasting) until the outside was dull and the sides were a slightly sunken.  

Recipe Alert:
Pork Konnyaku Green Bean Stir Fry

For testing purposes, a small amount of the diced Konnyaku was stir fried in olive oil, garlic, garlic chili and soy sauce for as long as it took for the Konnyaku to become stained and sizzling with color.  I tried it, and have to say that the texture was pretty much like sauteed mushroom.  I liked it.  It tasted good as well.

Totally willing to try this out with some soup stock and veggies on a regular basis like the pork and green bean stir fry.  I may even try the Shiritaki noodles again, only stir fried.

Having prepped the entire block, the remaining was put in a bowl and refrigerated for further testing.

Having satisfactorily passed the texture issue, I may try making some Konnyaku myself if I can put up with a stinky flower.

Amorphophallus konjac, Voodoo Lily Corms Harvested
However, if only growing the plant for corm production, the flower can be cut back so we don't have to suffer the stench and the plant can focus its energy on corm development.

The corms can get quite large, even pumpkin size from the looks of it.  The corms are reported to be quite healthful and is the source of Glucomannan that is getting pushed in the health market all over the place.

It is very interesting to see where some things come from.  If more people knew, would they still consume it?  Not that there is an ethical problem in harvesting the konjac corm that I'm aware of.  The blocks and noodles are so far removed from the source, I wonder if people would be interested in this amazing, magical food if the source was more apparent.  I rarely saw anything linking this all together in any other posts.

How To Make Konnyaku From Amorphophallus konjac Corms

Sashimi Konnyaku
NOTE:  Baking Soda can be used as a substitute for pickling lime.  Grey colored Konnyaku is made with unpeeled corms or with ground up nori bits or Yuzu.

To fake maguro, tomato coloring is added.  The ideas just kind of branch out and beg for testing.

For a desert style sashimi, splenda or a more authentic sweetener could be added to agar agar instead of Konjac powder or paste.

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