Fresh radishes are not typically one of those produce picks that generates a ton of excitement.
I’ve always enjoyed radishes, but in moderation, and not as consistently as I should. Most notably, I have them every time I eat tacos at a local taqueria.
Radishes make for the perfectly refreshing palate cleanser when consumed with savory meats and a spicy salsa. The mixture tastes great with that cold beer.
I occasionally slice them at home for a salad topper and sometimes over some hot tortilla soup, but that is about the extent of my radish consumption. Recently, however, I have been much more intrigued with this edible root vegetable, working through the dozen or so varieties currently available from local farmers.
This shallow growing root vegetable is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes the family of Brassica vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Radishes fall in the order of Brassicales, which include mustard greens, and are probably most reminiscent of the radishes flavor.
Their flavor profiles can include components that are bitter, sweet and spicy. Some can be much spicier than sweet, some are more bitter than mild, and others possess a blend of all components.
This week I encountered this giant red skinned variety of radish from the Her Family Farm stand called the “Red King.” These specimens were massive, and while the one I grabbed was about a quarter pound in weight, they can surpass a pound when fully mature, still yielding a nice flavor profile. Taking on a more elongated shape, somewhat reminiscent of a daikon radish, these beauties are quite sweet, crisp and moist within.
Raw or cooked, there are several ways radishes can be prepared. With such a great flavor profile, this week I decided to make a fresh radish salad, tossed with chopped Chinese cabbage. Light, simple and very refreshing, this can be served as a nice side or a full portioned salad.
Radish – Cabbage Salad
1 King Red Radish
8 cups Chinese (Napa) Cabbage, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
4 green onions, chopped
½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup peanuts or cashew nuts
Optional; 2 cups cooked chicken or tofu
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Whisk together dressing ingredients before serving
Trim the ends of the radish and cut in half lengthwise. Then cut into very thin half circles. In a large mixing bowl, add cabbage, carrots, green onions, cilantro, mint, and sliced radishes. Toss well.
Mix in 2-3 tablespoons of salad dressing and adjust to taste. Top with nuts, and if using, chicken or tofu. Gently toss just before plating. Season with fresh cracked pepper if desired.
Yield: Serves 4 sides.