Alhambra Farmers Market
A new year brings new produce as the Alhambra Source is back at the Sunday morning farmer's market. We come across radishes with a sweet flavor and flourescent core.
When thinking of radishes, most of us will think of those tiny, sharp-flavored red-skinned roots that usually come tossed haphazardly in a salad. I tend to think of the larger, pale radishes such as daikons which have a much milder flavor. I pretty much accepted that these were the only extremes of radish: a tiny, potent grenade or a hulking giant with a gentle touch. This all changed when I came across these watermelon radishes from Briar Patch farms (you might remember them from our Asian Pear article).
Also known as "Roseheart," "Red Meat" and "Shinrimei," this heirloom variety of the daikon radish has a flavor that lies between the radish extremes. The flesh has a sharper bite on the outside, but this decreases (and actually sweetens) as you move toward the core. It's a vegetal sweetness, kinda like jicama but with the noticable peppery bite of a radish. On that same spectrum of radish extremes, this is also the axis point where it was literally turned inside out. The color is almost otherwordly, like an organic garden fed with Photoshop fertilizer. It's pretty safe to say that you don't come across magenta vegetables very often.
Watermelon radishes can be found around late fall and all throughout winter. Technically they may be available throughout the year, but the radish does best in cooler weather as heat tends to boost their harsh bite. Look for radishes that are firm and heavy for their size, and without major blemishes. They can keep for several weeks when stored without their leafy tops, and wrapped in plastic in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
These radishes can be eaten raw in salads or as a garnish in sandwiches. Depending on how mature the radish is, you may have to peel off the skin as it get can fairly tough. I highly suggest trying them cut into wedges served with room temperatue butter and salt (the contrast in flavors and textures is spiritual to some). There's a great recipe for quick pickled watermelon radishes over at Healthy Happy Life, where Kathy serves them up as a refreshing salad. But I prefer a heartier preparation during these colder days. They can be roasted to deepen their flavor, then added to soups or mashed potatoes. Diced and tossed in a spicy stir-fry, or slowly braised with brisket (you can use a recipe like this Cantonese braised beef and replace the daikon).
Got suggestions for radish preparations and recipes? Let us hear them in the comments, or send them our way at [email protected]