When the Bite Isn’t Pepper
March 6, 2017
The radish has a very long history in the kitchen. Its characteristic bite can be played up or down, depending on your taste and how you prepare it. Its use was first documented in the third century BCE and it was probably around before that. In the manuscript Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome, written in the 4th or 5th century CE, Apicius suggests the following combination:
Slice your radishes thinly. Sprinkle with salt. Cover in vinegar. Add pepper overall.
You may use whatever type of vinegar you prefer, although red wine vinegar would probably be most authentic.
A lovely Medieval recipe from the book Forme of Cury can be found here. This recipe shows just how versatile the radish is in its ability to pair with other vegetables and, yes, fruits.
The physical trail of the radish leads us to an origin in the Middle East. This recipe lets us follow its path back to its roots (oo. sorry about that).
So does this one. Both of these recipes are for cooling salads, perhaps not surprising considering the heat of a midsummer afternoon in these regions.
Radishes pickle very nicely. During the summer months I keep a dill crock going in the pantry and I drop any extra radishes I have in to make radish pickles. Personally, I like them at the half-sour stage but you can let them get as sour as you'd like. Pickled radish is a different dish, easy to make and always welcome on a hearty sandwich. Try them as a topping on homemade pizza. Here's a nice pickled radish recipe from China.
This recipe for Radish Poriyal from India just sounds good to me. I've never made it and I'm not likely to, but I'm going to pass it along in case any of you want to try it and let me know how it is.
A nice dish of Roasted Radishes and Radish Greens is far closer to the type of cooking I'm likely to do. I love roasted vegetables and in the spring when the crop is abundant this is a good way to use them up. All leftover vegetables in my house end up a stew the next day anyway and this recipe positively begs you to make extra for tomorrow's stewpot.
Speaking of greens – don't let them go to waste! They have a bit of bite that will enliven any greens dish. Don't be afraid to substitute them for half of the spinach in any recipe you're making. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started.
And if you've had a rough day and need a bit of comfort food right now, here's my favorite way to have radishes- make yourself a scrambled egg mess! Saute sliced radishes in butter. While they're cooking, beat two eggs into a bowl with a little milk or cream, add them to the radishes and scramble until done to your preference. Add salt and pepper and dump on a slice of toast. Enjoy!
As you can see, radishes are a vegetable not to be taken lightly! Did I forget anything? How do you use your radishes in the kitchen? Share you recipes in the comments below. I'd love to try them!
Tomorrow's Knowings of the Leech post will explore how the Practitioners of the Art of the Physician put the radish to work.