Wednesday, May 20, 2009
grab your boots and use your hands
wade in water usually muddy
tasty and so sweet
cattails are a fine treat to eat!
Sung somewhat to the melody of "Sunny Side of the Street" while you contemplate your adventure into a muddy mire to grab lunch.
Not to be confused with water iris which also grow in marshy areas and ponds, cattails have stalks that wrap around one another as opposed to splayed fronds rising from a base.
Once you get to the cattail, straddle it, and peel back the outer layers sliding your hands down the stalk till you reach bottom, which is inevitably under water. Gently snap and pull the cattail out of the water. To prepare, cut off the bottom few inches, which is pale green to white, and peel off this section until you get to the tender nearly all white area.
Now you can make a raw salad of the white shoots or cook them so they magically turn into a "poor man's hearts of palm."
Poach them for about a minute with a little lemon, water, and a dash of sugar and salt. Cool and serve dressed with a citrus vinaigrette.
It is the hearts of cattails we want to recover, the white inner core at the base about 4-5 inches long. If they are invasive in your pond perhaps you want to yank them out--weed and feed of another sort.
There are other uses for cattails, like collecting the golden pollen that oozes from the fat brown "flower." This can be used like "flour" as a coating for fish or fowl before cooking or as a thickening agent. The roots too are edible, though we haven't tried them yet--saving this for another blahg....