Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Radishes Galore

I find it amazing just how fast radishes grow and just how fast they turn to woody crap! I would love to know how other people use them. I have never used them very much in my kitchen. Even though I really enjoy the flavors of horseradish, I could not figure out what to do with them besides slicing them up and serving them on top of a salad.

It was not until my friend Jennifer served up an amazing radish dip with croƻtons and veggie sticks at one of her parties that I gave radishes a second thought. The flavors were well melded with herbs and garlic, I think she used sour cream or cream cheese, anyway, the texture was creamy and rich, not watery. It was amazing! We devoured it! It really opened my mind
on how to use radishes in different ways. Maybe she will give us the recipe. I will ask her.

After some recipe research I found that most of my current cookbooks did not offer much new in ways to use radishes. Online is where I have found some of the most intriguing ways to use radishes. I have found Coleslaw, dips, cold soups, braises, pickles and cakes! I have yet to try the braises. To me the most interesting are those with an Asian flair.

Currently I have 5 kinds of radishes growing on the farm.

I have "French Breakfast" which is an oblong radish, red on top turning to white on the bottom. They are about 2-3 inches long. They are crisp and slightly hot. They are the perfect radishes for garnishing and slicing on salad.

The "Red Meat Radishes" which look like watermelons in color, light green on the outside and redish in the middle. They are round and much bigger than the French Breakfast radishes. Their texture is more solid and less watery than the other two radishes. They also have a more distinct radish flavor, making this type nice for dips, coleslaws and blended up for a cold soup.

I have "Japanese Daikon Radishes". If you are not familiar with daikons, they are very different looking from regular red radishes. They are about a foot long, at least, (a great conversation starter!) and 4-5 inches in diameter, white with a slightly greenish top. These are my favorite. Their size makes them very useful. They have a very crisp texture and they are the mildest of the radishes, with an almost sweet flavor. One Daikon is about 1-2 pounds. They last a long time in the fridge.

Also in the Daikon realm I am growing the cute smaller White Icicle daikons which are only about 4 to 6 inches long. And in my ever continuing experimenting with collecting seed, I now have what I call Purple Daikons which is where my white big daikons crossed with my Red Meat radishes. They are really quite a nice surprise and make especially pretty Chinese Styled Pickled Daikons!

Be sure to check out the other Radish recipe on this blog by L's Kitchen called Nested Roasting Chicken where radishes and other root vegetables are roasted with chicken.

Click Here for L's Kitchen - Nested Roasting Chicken

I am offering my recipe for Daikon Cakes. It is one of my favorite appetizers to serve to guests and I make them often as an entree served on a bed of sauteed greens. They are really quite easy to make. These cakes are a crowd pleaser with their crispy and crunchy textures. They are a great alternative to crab cakes since crab is so hard to find and when it is, it is expensive. These cakes are vegetarian too.

I have a stash of Panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs) from the States, and I use that to bread them. Because I have yet to find Panko here in the Chiriqui area, I have substituted regular bread crumbs for the breading which works just great, just with a slightly different crispness. Sometimes you can find Panko in Super Baru. Let me know if you have seen Panko around.

Daikon Cakes with Thai Dipping Sauce

3 C packed coarsely grated daikon radish
3/4 tsp salt
2 scallions or chives, minced
1 egg beaten
2 Tbsp flour
1 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp white (or black) pepper
About 1/2 C panko bread crumbs or regular bread crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying

Coarsely grate the daikon radish and mix with the salt. Let this sit in a bowl or colander for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you can soak the grated daikon in salted water. I find this method to work great (also for eggplant)

After the 30 minutes, squeeze the water out of the daikon with your hands or drain and then place in a kitchen towel and wring out the water. You'll want the daikon really dry.

Mix the daikon with minced scallions, beaten egg, flour, sesame oil, and white pepper. Take 1/3 C of the mixture and form cakes that are about 1/2 inch thick. You should get 5 or 6 cakes.

Scatter some bread crumbs on a plate and bread the top and bottom of each cake.

Heat 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pan fry the cakes until the bottoms are golden brown. Flip the cakes over, add another 2 tsp of oil, and continue to pan fry until the second side is golden brown.

Serve with Thai Sweet-Hot Dipping Sauce or Soy Sauce.

They are great served on a bed of sauteed greens.You could add into the mix other chopped herbs like cilantro or chervil or other vegetables such as grated carrot, ginger and/or garlic.


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