Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) taste like celery and pear, with a texture like crisp apple or raw potato. They taste grassy and almost imperceptibly like their namesake. Their flesh is almost translucent when sliced extra thin.
I prefer to peel Jerusalem artichokes, because the skin detracts from the delicate flavor inside. Work quickly so they don’t discolor in contact with the air. On a warm day, forgo the stove altogether and slice these thinly, arrayed on a plate alongside soft butter and dark bread. They pick up the taste of butter beautifully when sautéed, and are crisp and bright when blanched in a stock heavy with white wine.
1 ½ pounds Jerusalem artichokes, washed well, peeled, and sliced in half, lengthwise
1 ½ cups water
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
Place artichokes in a medium saucepan and pour in water. The water should practically cover the vegetables. If not, choose a slightly smaller pot. Add all the other ingredients, cover tightly, and bring to a quick boil. Turn to a very low simmer and cook, covered still, until the largest piece is completely tender, at least 15 minutes.
When completely tender, turn off heat, leave pot covered, and cool to room temperature.
If you are hoping to mash or puree the Jerusalem artichokes, do so before refrigerating them. Chilled, they firm up and regain a mysterious crispness. Cold, however, they are perfect for salads or hold their form reheated at a later time in a hot pan with some butter and salt.