When we were thinking about creating a whole article based around radish, we were a little daunted. Radish is rarely the main ingredient in any dish. We often used it, sliced very thinly as a garnish on salads, grated into a remoulade or pickled and preserved.
We have started a little rooftop garden in our rented townhouse in Phibsborough, where we are attempting to grow all sorts of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. The first thing to pop up out of a little grow bag, far quicker than anything else, was the little jewel like radish, like red baubles or Rudolph's nose. This earnest glut of radishes seemed to be begging us to make good use of them, to fuss over them and experiment with them. They are still the only thing we have grown that is in any way ready to eat, besides maybe some mizuna or mustard greens.
We definitely went on a journey with our little radishes. They were delightfully crunchy, peppery and colourful, with a very mild spicy almost turnip-like flavour. If we are completely honest, we would never have chosen to grow them if we hadn’t been gifted a little tin of seeds from a friend which included several varieties. So we planted the regular red little globe ones, not being too sure which of the many varieties it was that are out there.
We were surprised to see shoots almost a day after sowing them and two weeks later they were starting to form thick roots which would quickly swell into edible, crunchy radishes. As beginner gardeners, this quick transformation from seed to edible vegetable was very satisfying. The recipes we have included here are the result of us trying to challenge our own limited notion of how you could use radishes in your cooking. We really enjoyed these experiments and hope you like the results.
Somewhere, from someone or maybe from several different authorities, we heard that you should never cook radish, I mean, you could, but it would be to ruin them. We decided that we needed to make up our own mind on this. We found this combination of gentle simmering in toasty, brown butter allowed the radishes to transform into what can only be described as the juiciest miniature turnips you’ve ever tasted. A good squeeze of lemon juice and a scatter of parsley completes this simple side dish.
In a large heavy based frying pan, heat half the butter over a medium high heat until it starts to bubble and foam. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer away until the butter starts to turn brown and gives off a toasted aroma.
Add the radishes to the pan and stir around the butter to coat. Simmer the radishes in the butter for around 10 minutes and season with sea salt. The radishes will soften and become a little wrinkled. Add the lemon juice, turn the heat up and let sizzle for a further minute. Sprinkle the parsley over and serve.
It seems like such a shame when you have a nice big bunch of radishes to just throw the lovely leaves away in the compost. They taste very green and peppery when eaten raw but if you cook them slowly in a vegetable broth and then blitz it all together, their sharp flavour becomes mellowed and softly peppery, similar in a way to mustard greens.
Put a large saucepan or casserole on a medium high heat. Add a 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and add the shallots to the pan, softening the shallot in the hot oil for a minute or two before adding the garlic. Turn the heat down slightly and cook the garlic and onion for another 2 or 3 minutes before adding the potato. Add the butter, allowing it to melt and then mix all the ingredients around the saucepan until everything is well coated in butter and oil. Pour in the stock and water, season generously with sea salt. Bring to the boil and then add the radish tops, which you can roughly chop if you wish. Reduce the heat after a minute or two to a low simmer and leave to cook for 15 minutes until the potatoes are completely cooked through.
Puree the soup with a stick blender until very smooth and green. Serve with creme fraiche or cream if you wish and always fresh crusty bread.
Radish pickle can be a little off putting to the uninitiated because of its rather strong aroma. The smell really only lingers for a short while after you open the sealed jar. Pickled radishes are wonderfully crunchy and retain their peppery taste after being pickled. Pickled radish make a wonderful condiment and it is particularly good with asian dishes such as on top of a rice bowl.
Clean the radish bulbs and cut any larger ones in half.
Combine the water, vinegar, sugar, sea salt, bay leaves, coriander seeds, peppercorns and allspice berries in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil, making sure the sugar has dissolved completely.
Sterilize a few small jars, or one large one and pack tightly with the radishes and a few sprigs of dill. Pour the boiling hot pickling liquor into the jars so that the radishes are all just about submerged. Cool completely before sealing shut and refrigerating. Leave for about 1 week before eating.