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Askordoulakous are very small, oval to tear-drop shaped bulbs that are similar in appearance to small onions. The bulb is wrapped in flaky, parchment-like skin that ranges in color from brown, tan, to light pink, and at the base of the bulb, there are many brown roots. Underneath the skin, the flesh contains many translucent white to pink layers that are crisp and firm. When sliced, the bulb secretes a very sticky, mucilaginous substance that dissipates with prolonged cooking and soaking in water. Askordoulakous has a mild, bitter-sweet, and earthy flavor. In addition to the bulbs, the plant can be identified by its bright purple-blue, bell-shaped flowers growing along the top of the stalks emitting a strong, musky scent.
Askordoulakous is available in the late winter through early spring.
Askordoulakous, botanically classified as Muscari comosum, are edible, underground bulbs of a wild, perennial plant that can reach 20-30 centimeters in height and belongs to the Asparagaceae family. Native to regions across the Mediterranean and the Middle East, these small bulbs are found growing wild, harvested in vineyards, groves, fields, and alongside hillsides near villages, and are also cultivated on a small scale for export. Known as ?????? which means “bulbs” in Greek and Lampascioni, Lamponi, and Lampasciuni in Italian, Askordoulakous is challenging to find as it grows deep in the ground and must be prepared to reduce its bitter flavor and mucilaginous texture. Despite the lengthy process, the bulbs are considered a delicacy in Greece and Italy and are commonly boiled and preserved in olive oil and vinegar.
Askordoulakous contain antioxidants and some vitamin C, iron, and fiber.
Askordoulakous are most popularly boiled and pickled for extended use. The bulbs are cleaned, sometimes soaked in water with multiple water changes, and are then boiled to help remove the sticky liquid and bitter flavor. Once prepared, the bulbs are stored in a mixture of olive oil, vinegar, and herbs for added flavor. Cooked Askordoulakous can be added to salads, served as a bite-sized appetizer, or mixed into traditional recipes with snails, lamb, octopus, and pork. It can also be stewed, and the flowers of the plant are sometimes cooked into omelets. Askordoulakous pairs well with dill, mint, thyme, oregano, lemon juice, vinegar, honey, sesame seeds, garlic, and cheese. The bulbs should be used immediately for best flavor and will keep for a couple of days when stored at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Askordoulakous is considered a delicacy in both Crete, Greece and Puglia, Italy. In Crete, the bulbs have been used in culinary applications for thousands of years and are rumored to be an aphrodisiac. Harvested locally and sold in fresh markets on the island, the most coveted Askordoulakous are the bulbs that are hand gathered from the wild as the locals believe the flavor of the bulb is richer in the native plants versus the cultivated plants. The bulbs have also been used medicinally for thousands of years to help reduce symptoms associated with sprains, stomach aches, and hemorrhoids, and have even been used to help reduce freckles. In Puglia, a region in Southern Italy, Askordoulakous is known as Lampascioni and are traditionally used in the specialty dish Lampscioni sott’olio, which is bulbs cooked and preserved in oil with garlic and herbs such as peppermint or parsley. The cooked bulbs are prepared in many different ways in Italy, according to the family making the dish, and are often sold at town festivals and celebrations.
Askordoulakous is native to regions in the Mediterranean and the Middle East and has been growing wild since ancient times. The bulbs were then spread across Europe, into Asia, and also into the British Isles in the 16th century. Today Askordoulakous can be found growing wild, cultivated on a small scale, and sold at local markets in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Iran, the British Isles, Turkey, and select regions in Asia.
People have shared Askordoulakous Tubers using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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