It’s easy to grow Mashua (also known as vining Nasturtium). Its pretty little flowers and leaves grow so profusely as to almost qualify it as a weed.
And underground, the tubers are even more remarkable. A single tuber, dropped into poor soil and neglected for the rest of the season will have developed into a huge, unruly mass of tubers by late fall. It is one of the most productive plants I have ever seen.
But is it any good to eat? That question is more difficult to answer. A web search yields very little information, let alone any recipes. We tried it raw like a radish and it was good, in a radishy way: crunchy and spicy.
What about cooking? Sliced and fried they brown up nicely, losing all of the spiciness and acquiring instead a unique flavor somewhat reminiscent of licorice. The texture is smooth and creamy without being mushy. Steamed and mashed with just a bit of butter, salt, and pepper was also rather good.
Mashua definitely has cooking potential. We’ll have to experiment a bit more to figure out what it would pair well with … something with a robust flavor, perhaps a bit sweet and either salty or spicy. Tofu with soy/orange glaze? Black beans with mole sauce?