I love late spring and early summer, food-wise: finally, after a long long winter, we get rewarded for our patience in a big, satisfying way.
crisp, bitey radishes
So many textures, such a wide range of flavors!
From a farming/gardening perspective, french breakfast radishes are great for a quick yield: 28 days after planting, you can usually start harvesting. If you’ve got little kids or grandkids, french breakfast radishes are a perfect, kid-scaled crop. They can plant, tend, and harvest, seeing the fruits of their labor very quickly.
We know radishes work well in salads and crudités platters, but what else can we do with our bumper crops (before they wither in the fridge)?
Traditionally made with cabbage or daikon radishes, the Korean fermented staple kimchi is a great way to preserve and to try your hand at fermenting raw ingredients in a low-impact way. I actually prefer the radish variety to the cabbage: kimchi is traditionally sour and tangy, and the radishes add subtle spiciness and crispy texture.
Although most recipes call for daikon, we have breakfast varieties, so we’ll use them! I’ve adapted and scaled the following recipe for use with regular pantry items and our local radishes.
French Radish Kimchi
based on a recipe by Mother In Law’s Kimchi
one bunch (about 8oz) french breakfast radishes
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (if you happen to have Korean chili flakes, by all means, use those. Chili powder varieties are by no means interchangeable; the closest we can get to a substitution in most of our pantries is cayenne)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 pinch of sugar
First, gently rinse the radishes in clean water a few times. Cut off the tops (saving for some other use) and slice in at least half. We cut them into bite-sized sticks.
Sprinkle with salt and gently toss to cover. Let sit 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the water, garlic, pepper, sugar, and ginger into a paste.
Next, pour the radishes into a sieve set over a bowl to catch the brine.
Set the brine aside, and very thoroughly rinse those radishes. Dunk them in a bowl of clean water, pour it out, repeat once or twice, and then rinse them more for good measure. Drain for another 15 minutes.
Pour your seasoning paste over the the radishes, toss gently to coat, and pack into a clean jar.
Pour the reserved brine liquid into the bowl you just had the radishes in, swirl it around to grab all that flavor stuck to the bowl, and pour into the jar on top of the veggies.
Close the lid and let it sit on your counter for one day to ferment (don’t worry- the salty brine keeps it safe).
Store in your fridge and enjoy within a week. Try it alongside barbecue chicken, grilled pork chops, sautéed greens, or beef and noodles, or as a late-night snack.
What have you done with your radishes? We’d love to hear your ideas!