The World of Radishes
You have probably strolled through the aisles of the produce section before, looking at various fruits and vegetables and wondering to yourself, “Who eats those?” While broccoli, cabbage, and other vegetables are familiar (while possibly still despised), there are just some things that you never think to put in your cart and bring home with you. But it’s a good thing to stretch your boundaries and try new things, especially when it comes to fresh produce!
While it might not be a foreign food to you, radishes still might not be something that you’re grabbing when you’re at the store. Or maybe you have; you took one home from the supermarket to try it out, sliced it, and bit into it. The spiciness quickly saturated your mouth while the pepperyÂ sweetness shot straight up through your nostrils and into your brain; it might have reminded you of the first time you took just a little too much pickled ginger at the sushi bar. With a little patience and inspiration, radishes can add a completely different dimension to the flavor profile of your cooking.
Radishes are a member of the Brassicaceae family, making them relatives of cabbage, turnips, and broccoli, among many other common vegetables. They are peppery and spicy when raw, but they take on a rather light texture when cooked, which pairs wonderfully with heavy sauces. Being high in fiber and vitamin C while being low in calories, radishes are a wonderful addition to anyone’s diet. Here are just a few ways that radishes are used around the world.
1. United States — Watermelon Radish Sorbet. Watermelon radish sorbet was first introduced at the exclusive Blanca restaurant in Brooklyn, known for its New American tasting menus. The flavor of the watermelon provides relief to the somewhat bizarre frozen radish creation. Who knew that two simple ingredients could feel so exotic?
2. France — Appetizer with Butter and Salt. The pairing of radishes with butter and salt is almost unrealistically simple. It’s probably because of that fact that this dish is used so commonly as appetizers and snacks in French cuisine. Top the radishes with softened butter, place on a bed of sea salt, and serve with a baguette for a quick meal.
3. China — Sugar Snap Pea Salad. If you’re tired of salads consisting of soggy leaves, try adding a bit of a crunch with sugar snap peas, edamame, and radishes with ginger dressing. The radishes add sweet heat and balance to the otherwise salty and earthy profile of the peas and beans.
4. Japan — Daikon No Nimono. The oversized, more mellow Daikon radish is one of the most popular and versatile ingredients in Japanese cuisine. “Nimono” is simply the term for braised or simmered dishes. This dish involves slowly simmering daikon in dashi stock (think miso soup), sugar, soy sauce, sake, and mirin.
5. India — Mullangi Sambar. Mullangi is the word for radish in Telugu, a predominant language in southern India. Typical of Indian cuisine, the same ingredients can be prepared in different ways for a delightful array of food options. Sambar is a sort of lentil stew, and the mullangi sambar combines well with spinach, tomatoes, and a sweet potato.
With such ravishing qualities, it’s no surprise that radishes are used in a variety of different ways all around the world. Use these ideas as inspiration for your next culinary adventure, and discover how radishes can take your own unique style of cooking to the next level.