Features on StarChefs.com

Wild vegetables bring fresh flavor to spring dishes
by Minna Suh

It’s time to forage the woods for spring greens, and wild ramps are now in season, found on many chefs’ spring menus.

Ramps originate in cool, forested regions, springing up from the Appalachians to as far north as Ontario, Canada. The tender greens offer a first chance for chefs to use local spring vegetables. They provide a much-needed transition away from the root vegetables and winter squashes that have been cellaring away for months. For diners, the obscure wild ramps is a treat; unlike their more common, cultivated brethren, including scallions, onions and garlic, ramps can’t be found at the supermarket all year long. For chefs, they provide inspiration for creative spring dishes. » more


Chef Eric Kleinman of ‘inoteca – New York
House Smoked Trout with Charred Ramps and Fried Egg

Chef Tony Maws of Craigie Street Bistrot – Cambridge
Fried Clams and Potato Chips with Ramp Salsa Verde

Chef Makoto Okuwa of Morimoto – New York
Warm Spring-Style Salad with Bamboo Shoots, Eggplant, Pickled Ramps and Grouper

1. Wild ramps can be found in the forest
2. Pull the ramp out by its root
3. Soak the ramps in cold water until clean
4. Strip the outer layers down to the white, purple edged bulb and discard ends before cooking.


Both the tender leaves and the pearly bulbs are edible -- uncooked, their pungent flavor resembles a cross between garlic and scallion. When cooked, they can withstand a lot of heat, yielding a subtler flavor. Chef Eric Kleinman of ‘inoteca in New York, NY chars ramps and layers them on toasted Pugliese bread with smoked trout and a fried egg. Chef Tony Maws of Craigie Street Bistrot in Cambridge, MA, adds them raw to a salsa verde as an accompaniment to fried oysters, leaving their pungent flavor intact. Chef Makoto Okuwa of Morimoto in New York, NY, pickles chopped ramps with rice vinegar and sugar, incorporating them into a spring salad with Japanese grouper.



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   Published: May 2006