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home > food & wine dictionary > kudzu

Food and Wine Dictionary

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 kudzu    [KOOD-zoo]

It wasn't until 1876 that this fast-growing legume-family plant was introduced to the United States, where it's used primarily as pasturage and for erosion control. Kudzu, however, has been a popular food in Japan and China for thousands of years. Most of the plant can be eaten — the tender leaves and stems can be cooked as with other GREENS. However, it's the tuberous roots (which have been known to weigh up to 450 pounds and reach 7 feet in length) that offer this plant's real premium. These roots are dehydrated and pulverized, and it is this starchy kudzu powder  that is used culinarily in myriad ways — from thickening soups and sauces to DREDGING foods to be deep-fried. Kudzu powder can be found in Asian markets and some health-food stores. It's high in fiber, protein and vitamins A and D.

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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