The Ingredient That Stumped MasterChef Contestants (And 6 Recipes You Can Use It In)

Facing off against the professional chef Frank Camorra and his team from Melbourne's MoVida, the Green Team were stumped by one ingredient.

In this service challenge, teams had to feature three ingredients across their entree, main and dessert courses. Alternating who could select the ingredients the Green Team kicked things off with a challenge for the MoVida team.

Experts in Spanish cuisine, the MoVida gang were on the backfoot when the Green Team picked lemongrass as the key ingredient for the entrees. But it wasn't long before they got their revenge, picking the humble Jerusalem artichoke as the key ingredient for mains.

With the Green Team picking cumquats as the featured ingredient for dessert, the challenge was up and running, but not before the contestants had to quickly figure out what exactly a Jerusalem artichoke even is.

And they weren't alone. Like Dan, we initially assumed the judges were pointing at a plate of ginger, so we fired up Google and tried to learn as much as possible.

So what is a Jerusalem artichoke?

Weirdly enough, it's not really an artichoke at all but the root of a species of sunflower. Otherwise known as a 'sunchoke', the slightly sweet, slightly nutty root veg can be used across a variety of recipes. Native to North America, the Jerusalem artichoke can grow over three meters in a season, and explodes with bright yellow flowers that reach up to the clouds.

Do Jerusalem artichokes actually come from Jerusalem?

These tricky little tubers are double liars when it comes to their name. Not really an artichoke, they also don't come from the ancient city of Jerusalem but rather are thought to be named after the Italian word for sunflower, Girasole.

What do Jerusalem artichokes taste like?

Often compared to potatoes, parsnips and even a water chestnut, the sunchoke can be eaten raw in salads, scalloped and stir-fried, boiled, mashed, roasted... the choices are endless.

"It is very versatile which is the great thing about Jerusalem artichokes," Andy told Jess during the challenge adding.

What are some recipes for using Jerusalem artichokes?

Some of the all-time greats of the MasterChef kitchen have utilised the humble Jerusalem artichoke to create incredible dishes highlighting the ingredient's versatility.

Back To Win's champion Emelia Jackson has created a few recipes to showcase that breadth of recipes the sunchoke can star in, from her Glazed Beef Cheeks with Jerusalem Artichokes to a spin on the classic dessert with her Jerusalem Artichoke Crème Brulee.

The king of veggies, Simon Toohey, also gave the veg some love with his Broccoli Stem, Jerusalem Artichoke and Pine Nut Cream, Cod and Crispy Skin as well as his Fried Cabbage with Jerusalem Artichoke and Leek Cream.

And Laura Sharrad similarly went savoury and sweet routes with her Brown Butter Bugs, Jerusalem Artichoke, Watercress and Roasted Bug Oil and Jerusalem Artichoke Gelato with Caramel, Crispy Skin and Cumquat Gel.

What's the downside?

Okay, in our research the one thing that kept popping up was that you may find after eating a few Jerusalem artichokes that things can get a lil... gassy. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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