"Exotic" Vegetables

Throughout my readings and years in the kitchen, I came across some vegetables that were totally unknown to me. Nowadays with the plane travel revolution, some of these "exotic" vegetables even make it in our European supermarket. But it never says how to cook them.So I started a list a these unusual vegetables to be able to recognise them quickly, easily and find the best way to cook them. This is what I want to share now. This listing isn't finished, feel free to bring to my attention your discovery to help me extend my little listing.
This is how it works, the first name is its English name, the second its French name then a short description and finally how to cook it.

Cassava ; Manioc ; Starchy root ; Steamed, Boiled, Mashed, roasted or Deep fried.

Manioc ; Manioc ; Starchy root ; Steamed, Boiled, Mashed, roasted or Deep fried.

Yuca ; Yuca ; Fibrous, Starchy root ; Roasted, Pan fried, Mashed, Boiled, Deep fried.

Taro ; Taro ; Starchy root ; Boiled, Mashed, Roasted, Deep fried.

Yam ; Ignam ; Starchy root ; Boiled, Roasted, Mashed, Deep fried.

Parsley root ; Racine de persil ; Fibrous root ; Boiled, Steamed, Roasted.

Arracacha ; Arracacha ; Starchy root ; Boiled, Roasted, Mashed, Steamed Deep fried.

Sunchoke or Jerusalem artichoke ; Topinambour ; Fibrous root ; In soup, Mashed, Roasted, Steamed Pan fried, Deep fried. It is prone to oxidation so it needs to be pre-cooked in a "blanc".

Burdock ; Bardane ; Fibrous root ; Steamed, Roasted, Boiled, Pan fried. It is prone to oxidation so it needs to be pre-cooked in a "blanc".

Tiger nut ; Noix de tigre ; Starchy root ; Boiled, Pan fried, Stewed, Steamed, Stir fried, Roasted.

Jicama or Yam bean ; Jicama ; Starchy root ; Mashed, Steamed, Boiled, Roasted, Deep fried.

Oca or New Zealand Yam ; Truffette acide ; Starchy root ; Boiled, Steamed, Sautéed, Roasted.
Nopales, Cactus pads ; Nopales, Oreilles de cactus ; Fibrous, tart green ; Pickled, Stewed, Steamed, Boiled.

Fiddleheads ; Tetes de fougeres ; Fibrous, tart green ; Steamed, Pickled, Boiled, Pan fried.

Collard ; Chou Collard ; Leafy green ; Steamed, Boiled, Pan fried, Stewed.

Chard ; Cardon ; Fibrous leaf ; Steamed, Boiled, Pan fried, Roasted.
Amaranth ; Amaranth ; Grain ; Boiled, Steamed.
Tomatillo/ Chinese Lantern ; Tomatillo ; Acidic fruit ; Fresh in salad, Pickled, Jam, Roasted, In Salsa, Grilled.

Tamarillo/Tree Tomato ; Tomate en arbre ; Sweet acidic fruit ; Fresh in salads, Pickled, Jam, Roasted, Grilled.

Wax gourd ; Gourde cireuse ; Fleshy, bland Vegetable ; Steamed, Mashed, Roasted, Stewed, Season well.

Lohfa/ Sponge gourd/ Luffa ; Loffa ; Fibrous, Hollow Vegetable ; Steamed, Roasted, Stewed, Season well.

Bottle gourd/Cucuzza/ calabash/ Courge bouteille, Calbasse ; Fleshy, Hollow Vegetable ; Steamed, Stewed, Mashed, Roasted, Season well.
Bitter gourd ; Courge amère ; Ferm, Fleshy, bitter green ; Use like curcumber, Slightly salted in salad, Pickled.

Acorn Squash, Spaghetti Squash ; Courge gland, Spaghetti vegetale ; Stinguy flesh ; Steamed or boiled then gratted with a fork to obtain some spaghetty like fibers.

Kabocha, Cheese squash/ Kabocha ; Courge fromage, Cabosse ; Ferm flesh, Rich, Slightly sweet ; In soup, Roasted, Stewed, Pan fried, Boiled.

Banana squash ; Courge banane ; Ferm fresh, Slightly sweet ; In soup, Roasted, Boiled, Stewed, Pan fried, Stuffed.
Turban squash ; Giraumon a Turban ; Ferm flesh, Watery ; In soup, Roasted, Pan fried, Boiled, Season well.
Hubbard squash ; Giraumon ; Ferm flesh, Slightly sweet ; In soup, Tart filling, Roasted, Pan fried, Boiled, Steamed.

Cushaw ; Courge musquée ; Ferm flesh, Watery, Fibrous ; Roasted, Steamed, Pan fried, Steamed, Season well and do not cook too much.

Chayote ; Chayote ; Firm, Crispy flesh, Slightly starchy, Edible seed ; Raw in a marinade, Roasted, Stewed, Pan fried, Deep fried, Steamed.

Winged Bean ; Haricot asperge ; Ferm, Stingy green ; Steamed, Boiled, Pan fried.
Okra ; Okra ; Ferm, Tart, Crispy Hollow green ; Deep fried, Raw in salad, marinated do not boil it will become soft and very slimmy.


  1. Wow,
    this is great, I found myself thinking of home after looking at some of these vegetables and thought, for example chayote we had them all over in the garden and we used to slice them for the cows.
    I'm originally Kenyan, learn't to cook in Italy from friends and family. Visit my blog and see.

    But this is great work.
    I will link to it, would you like to link to my blog too?

    on 21 June, 2007  

  2. just added you blog as a favourite in my blog.

    on 21 June, 2007  

  3. Anty said,

    Hi, I found your blog when I was searching for Napoles. Do you know where I can buy them in Ireland?

    on 29 May, 2008  

  4. Yann_Chef said,

    Hi Anty,
    Well, this is nearly out of season they peak towards mid-april. They can be ordered or occasionaly bought from caterway at the Dublin veg-market St Mary's lane D1 (go early in the morning), or check this shop organic and natural 27 Mitchell St Nenagh Co Tipperary 067 41479, atoan@eircom.net : they stock it when in season.

    :) Y.C

    on 29 May, 2008  

  5. winkle said,

    i recognize a lot of these here in the PHilippines. for example, TARO is usually used for desserts, add milk or sugar, even mcdonald's here have taro pie.

    JICAMA, or SINGKAMAS, is actually a turnip. and no, you do not cook it. you eat it with very tart vinegar or balsamic white vinegar, or by itself.

    TOMATILLO/CHINESE LANTERN, is just a week here, no one really eats it. not sure why its being sold where you are.

    WAX GOURD, known as UPO here. You usually cook it with rice noodles and pork. in soups, but never lone bec it lacks taste.

    LOHFA/SPONGE GOURD. When it's dried, spas or salons actually use it as a loofah. no kidding. but like the UPO, you shouldnt eat it alone, mix with any meat or fish except for poultry.

    BITTER GOURD or AMPALAYA, be careful not to buu the long big ones, bec the more mature they are, the more bitter. but the medium/small sized ones. the lighter the skin, the better. eaten with egg when you sautee it. or with sardines, tomato paste, sauteed.

    CHAYOTE or SAYOTE. not deep fried bec it's full of moisture. cook with fish, or any salty fried meat. add salt and pepper.or steam and add butter.

    WINGED BEAN or SIGARILYAS, natives usually eat them here, cook in soups with meat, goes very well with beans and fish sauce. If with fish sauce, it should be steamed. do not fry it.

    OKRA. my least favorite veg. you can steam, boil, sautee or add to soup, but never fry. good with pork.

    hope i helped. :)

    on 09 July, 2009  

  6. i used this for reserch i didnt know what to find info on this really helped thanx
    starlight :D stay happy!

    on 05 November, 2009