On a rainy Saturday afternoon, after seeing our daughter off to the airport, Peter and I wandered around a farmer's market at Ark Hills in Akasaka. We've been disappointed at the ones nearer to our house and weren't expecting much, but we were surprised at the quality and variety at this one on this particular day. It seems the vendors change from week to week at the Hills Marché as this market is referred to. One interesting package caught my eye and the sign, which read "apios," didn't help to explain what it was. I had not heard of apios nor saw anything like it before. I asked the vendor about them and she told me that they are native to North America and was a very popular food source for the American Indians long ago. The package of apios I held in my hand were grown in Aomori, where farmers are starting to cultivate them. I asked how to prepare them and she advised to boil them or fry them and use them as you would a regular potato. They were tiny, about the size of an elongated chestnut, and my first thought was it's going to be a pain to peel them and asked if I had to peel them. She said no. Sold!
Since they were so small I decided to use some of them as a garnish for a kabocha soup. Those I sliced on the mandolin raw and fried them in some oil. The others I boiled and then quartered and fried. Sprinkled with salt, they were delicious and tasted a bit nutty. Peter thought they tasted like acorns.
It's amazing, the things you learn about America by living outside of America!