Friday, 21 May 2010
I received a sample pack of the elusive Sechuan Buttons this morning and all of the chef’s in the kitchen have spent the day overly salivating because of them. Not that they’re so irresistible that the thought alone of them makes your mouth water. More that these unassuming little buttons (or flower buds) contain a naturally occurring, safe toxin that makes your mouth do just so. After a few seconds of chewing your tongue is given the most unusual of experiences. Tingling, numbing, electric waves shoot around your mouth. They’re the popping candy of the vegetable world! Flavour-wise they are rather bland, slightly earthy but that’s not why you’re eating them. As far as usage goes I’m a bit stumped, the sensation is so intense that they are a bit over the top to be honest. They remind me of putting a 9v battery on my tongue as a child. Maybe rimming a cocktail glass with a bud could lead to some tingly cocktails but as far as food is concerned? Maybe mixed through a salad as an electric surprise or floating in a nettle soup for the same reason. Not sure, I’ll report back later on those.
The buttons do have a slightly more useable little brother, Sechuan Cress. I’ve used the cress previously for garnishing fish canapés and they went down a stormer! The sensation being a little more subdued, they evoked intrigue rather than the blind panic the buttons cause.
These micro-vegetables are grown in Holland by Koppert Cress; take a look (here) for their full range. They have some really interesting products that got my fancy gland going as soon as I heard about them!