Radish – quick, peppery and bloody good for you!
Wow! A vegetable that has been around for 3,000 years, is good for your health, is easy to grow, all parts are edible and is a great component to a wide range of cooked and raw dishes - The Radish
Radish is a member of the Brassica family which means that all parts are edible and they are all very good for our health. I believe that we should have a Brassica in every meal as they are the good veggie that allows us to keep drinking more wine and radish is another option. Although the whole of the radish is edible most often it is the modified root that is eaten. They range from the standard salad radish that is round with red skin and white flesh to the elongated Daikon that is large with white skin and flesh. They come in a wide range of colours with skin colour that goes from dark black through pink, green to white and flesh that is white or purple to pink/red.
Let’s go back in time to find where this humble plant comes from. The common consensus is that it originated in northern China many thousands of years ago. From there it moved to ancient Greece and then to the Middle East and Rome. Eventually around 16th century it arrived in Western Europe. However there is a strong belief that it arose in Eastern Europe and moved both west and east. Another view is that there are two separate species that evolved in these regions. As to be expected the whole genus is in a state of flux. There is debate on origin, Latin name; genus, species, cultivars, early usage, number and legitimacy of species and other historical data.
The scientific background to such a universal plant is important to the academics but not so much for the general public who just like to eat it. All they care about is how to grow it, how does it taste and is it healthy?
Of all the home grown edible plants Radish has to be one of the quickest and easiest. Indeed the seeds germinate so quickly and easily that they are used to test the viability of potting media, fertiliser mixes and growing facilities. If you want to give a child something to develop a love of plants the humble radish is one of the best. They can plant the seeds in a pot or saucer and see germination in a matter of several days. Growth is quick and simple. The problem occurs if a large number of seed is sown as they will produce a good quantity of radishes. Most people have limited recipes for using fresh radish and if too many are planted at once they go to waste.
Radishes are so easy to grow they will perform in almost any soil and in a wide range of light levels. Just give them regular water and food and they will grow and produce yummy little roots. As they are so quick it is best to plant them weekly or fortnightly from late autumn to early spring. They will be ready for harvest in about 4 weeks. It is best to pick them young when they are sweeter, not as peppery and less fibrous. The larger Daikon types will of course take longer to get to size and the black ones can be harvested a bit later.
Once harvested they should be eaten reasonably soon. Some just rinse off the dirt and eat them raw but it is also good if they get into the kitchen where the rest of the family can enjoy them. There is the standard method of eating them finely sliced in salads and sandwiches, or made into pretty little rose flowers for garnishes but they are also really nice baked. Depending on the size they will bake in around 20 minutes and can be served with the weekly roast. Thick cut and fried along side the morning eggs is also nice. There are numerous ways the large forms are used in Japanese cuisine.
They are really healthy with high levels of Vitamin C, B6 and Folate. Also packed with all our favorite minerals like Potassium, Calcium and Manganese. Best of all they are very low in calories which makes them good little snacks for children and adults alike.
A nice little snack of entree is made by baking the radishes for about 20 minutes then slicing them at about 10mm thick. Place some good Halloumi in a pan cut into pieces the same size as the diameter of the radish. When it is melted and cooked on one side flip over, place some finely chopped coriander on top and then place the radish slice on top. Cook for another 3-4 minutes. Serve 3 or 4 with a garnish of Coriander and a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc.