Kudzu is a fast growing vine with a thick root similar to a small sweet potato root. Although native to Japan and China, it has taken root in some areas of the southeastern United States where it is thought of as an evasive plant.
In cooking, powdered kudzu root is used as a thickening agent much like cornstarch or arrowroot flour. It is translucent when cooked, slightly alkaline, doesn’t leave a starchy taste.
Here’s a kudzu recipe idea from my vegan friend and cook, Angie, who shared this as an alternative to flour-based vegan gravies. It is light and flavorful and takes advantage of a type of Japanese rice wine called mirin.
I first made this for Thanksgiving but it is a wonderful gravy for any holiday feast.
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 small white onion (chopped fine)
2 cups vegetable broth (warmed)
1 teaspoon Better Than Bullion Vegetable Base
½ bay leaf
1 tablespoon Tamari sauce
1 teaspoon mirin
3 tablespoons kudzu (crushed fine)
Heat oil in a small saucepan. Add onion and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in broth, vegetable base, and bay leaf. Reduce heat to simmer and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for 12 – 15 minutes. Stir in tamari and mirin and cook for another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
Thoroughly dissolve kudzu in 3 tablespoons cold water. Slowly add this to the sauce and whisk to combine. Return pan to the stove and simmer for another 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and set aside until ready to serve.