I’ve mentioned this ingredient before in a previous post, but I feel that I did not give it the attention it deserves. If there is one beneficial ingredient that I was introduced to in culinary school that really stuck with me into my everyday, this one is it. I fell in love with *kuzu. Kuzu root is not only an outstanding jelling and thickening agent, it also has a strong medicinal effect on the digestive and circulatory systems. It can relieve discomfort in the intestines caused by overacidity and irritation and has high concentrations of flavonoids, which have the ability to inhibit the contraction of smooth muscle tissue, increasing blood flow and relieving cramping in the intestines. This is a miracle root for me. Kuzu’s healing effects also brings a calming sensation to anxiety. I remember one of my culinary instructors claiming that she fed her kids kuzu puddings or drinks as their after school snack when they’d come home bouncing off the walls! She’d have some with them and it would make their home a much better place. I, to this day, use this method on my husband.
There are many recipes that kuzu can be used in. Try as a thickener in sauces and gravies, and for added body in soups and broths. It’s ideal in desserts like my Pumpkin Pudding and is the perfect ingredient in icings, toppings and pie fillings. The Apple Kuzu Pudding listed below is one that I make quite regularly. I learned a version of this in school, and have come across several other interpretations of it. I recently read somewhere that Annemarie Colbin (the founder of the Natural Gourmet) adds tahini to hers. Once I tried the tahini…it has definitely stuck. I make this quite often for dessert to end a hectic day with a calming treat or before settling in for the night and preparing dinner. It’s a simple, natural way to add a sense of calm into your life.
Apple Kuzu Pudding
2 cup organic apple juice
4 Tbsp crushed kuzu root
Splash vanilla extract
1 pinch Celtic sea salt (optional)
1 tsp tahini (optional)
Crush the chunks of the Kuzu with the back of a spoon or grind in a spice grinder before measuring. Combine the apple juice, kuzu, vanilla, and sea salt in a small saucepan. Gently bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly until the kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Stir in the tahini, if using. Divide into two small bowls. Serve immediately.
*You can find kuzu at your local Whole Foods or natural foods market or you can order directly from my amazon store here.