Pan-fried Cod with Coconut Milk Sauce

By Michelle Chang

Michelle Chang was born in Taiwan in 1967. In 2012, she moved to France, and in 2017, opened her restaurant, La 5ème Saveur. Her cuisine is a revisitation of French cuisine through fermentation. She is also a writer and columnist for a Taiwanese health magazine.

With the human exploration of the unknown, and the ease of transportation, the barriers of borders have begun to disappear. The former explorers and immigrants now bring with them elements of their culture, food, and cooking style from outside the country. These relocated elements and the local environment, blend to create a new look and connotation of food.

Topinambur was originally cultivated by Native Americans. In 1603, Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, discovered topinambur during an exchange with indigenous people in Canada, and recommended it to Mr. Marc Lescarbot, who was traveling to the French colony of Port-Royal in 1606. Lescarbot brought topinambur back to France in 1607.

The plant has been referred to in Chinese as ‘菊chrysanthemum’ and because of its appearance of a small taro, it has also been called ‘芋taro’. Another Chinese name is ‘洋姜western ginger’ because it comes from the West and resembles ginger in appearance. Most of the Taiwanese people’s knowledge of topinambur comes from Japan, because the Japanese introduced topinambur and greatly promoted its health benefits.

Topinambur is also known as Jerusalem artichoke because it tastes like artichokes when cooked, and has been called Canadian truffle because of its resemblance to a truffle.

After it was introduced to Europe, it became a European agricultural product because it was easy to cultivate and hardy. During World War II, due to the shortage of food, topinambur became a staple food for people and feed for animals. After the economy gradually recovered, to break the link with the memory of war and poverty, topinambur disappeared from the European table for a long time until the beginning of the 21st century, when the “Forgotten vegetable/Légumes oubliés” boom started, and topinambur began to be noticed once again.

Topinambur has a light sweet taste, and the source of the sweetness comes from inulin. Inulin is a naturally occurring polysaccharide produced by many types of plants. It is a prebiotic is metabolized by intestinal microbes into smaller molecules which can be absorbed and promote the growth of beneficial microbes.

However, because it cannot be broken down by the body’s digestive enzymes, some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort after eating it. When eaten raw or undercooked, topinambur has a crisp texture and is ideal for salads or quick fried. Topinambur well-cooked has a texture similar to potatoes and artichokes, and can be used in soups, stews, and even as a dessert. To solve the problem of digestibility, you can ferment topinambur before you cook it.

Fermented Topinambur:

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Fermentation: 3 to 4 weeks

Pan-fried Cod with Coconut Milk:

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes



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For 4 Servings

1 cup Carnaroli rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 tablespoons of EV Olive Oil
½ glass of white table wine
1 pint chicken stock preprepared (or vegetable stock)
1 cup rinsed blueberries
1 cup roasted chestnuts or more, chopped in big pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese (optional)