Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Allium Tricoccum (A Ramp By Any Other Name)

While growing up in the central mountains of WV during the late 70s and early 80s, ramps were a staple on my family's dinner table. The smell was awful, but the wild leek was so full of flavor and tasty that we tolerated the smell each Spring.

Each April our family --including my grandfather, who has since died--walked into the mountains to dig ramps. It was always so much fun; the crisp Spring weather, the mountain beauty and family made the trips much more than just a ramp dig. At the end of the day we would often have bushels of the stuff to clean and cook that night. I haven't eaten ramps since I was 15 years old or so (not-so-coincidentally, the same year I became really serious about girls), but each Spring I become nolstalgic about the plant.

(Or about the memories I have about the people and events surrounding it.)

UPDATE: My thanks to friends Bill and Becky, who supplied me with some ramps this weekend. I risked life and limb Saturday morning by frying the ramps with some bacon and scrambled eggs. My daughter and I were the only ones who would eat them, but they were fabulous! Just as I remembered.

Ramps are terrific simply fried, but here is a more upscale recipe some might like that I found on the 'net:

Salmon Filets for four people (about 2 lbs, preferably skinned)
Juice of half an orange or a few tlbs of bottled OJ
1/3 cup fresh Leek greens sliced across in 3/4 inch strips
1/2 clove of finely chopped garlic
1/2 to 3/4 lb of fresh wild mushrooms or and ounce of dry mushrooms. This recipe is unbelievable with Black Trumpets though Chanterelles or any True Morels work too.
1/2 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of vegetable or fish broth
1/4 cup of heavy cream (or half and half will do)
1/2 a stick of butter

Put the Salmon on a plate and cover with the orange juice.
Sprinkle with salt and set aside.
If using dry mushrooms reconstitute them by warming them in a pan with the wine for five minutes (or longer depending on the mushrooms). If you get to a boil turn it down to low and simmer. Set them aside and consider straining the wine if the mushrooms were gritty. Chop the mushrooms to bite size. Melt the butter and add the garlic for a few seconds then the mushrooms. When the mushrooms are cooked stir in the leek greens until wilted and dark green. Then add the stock and wine and reduce by half. Butter and broil your fish while reducing the sauce. When reduced add the cream and season with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Spoon the mushrooms onto plates and place the fish on top. Garnish with finely cut leek greens and or orange zest. Serve with Asparagus and roasted potatoes.


Cara said...

You finally figure out how to post pictures...and they are of ramps???!!! freak.

Anonymous said...


The Film Geek said...

It isn't the ramps as much as the memory. But, ramp pics are cool!

Anonymous said...

Ramps. AHHHHH....when I moved to WV just prior to 8th grade, I did not have a clue what "ramps" were outside of things you drove your car on. That spring I learned. and egads!!!