Radishes. These guys looked so good, all bright red and leafy, with little roots reaching out. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity for radishes as a part of the generation that grew up watching Fraggle Rock.
Fraggle Rock was a children’s television show during the mid-1980s with lots of singing, dancing, and Muppets. All the characters ate radishes, and the littlest characters made them into sweet sticks that were good for building structures that would later be eaten. I actually searched for a recipe for Doozer sticks and found a neat compilation of dishes by the Fraggle cook, Boober.
Short of eating a slice or two raw at a salad bar, or in the guacamole along with a piece of jicama at Nada, or, the worst example, getting a dried out piece of radish in a bagged salad, I didn’t know what to do with these beauties. I did slice one up to enjoy on its own, but I wanted to play with the rest. I probably should have exampled more cookbooks, because I only found a few recipes I was willing to try when searching the web for people-recipes, not Fraggle-recipes.
Enter Rachael Ray. She has a recipe for braised radishes that looked like it was worth a shot. Of course I made substitutions for the chicken stock and butter, but I also couldn’t find shallots at my inconsistent neighborhood grocery store, so I bought a bag of pearl onions.
I blanched the onions in their skins, then chopped off the tops and bottoms to procure teeny sweet pearl onions. I set these aside because I figured they’d cook more quickly than the radishes.
I prepared the radishes by chopping off their tops and roots. (Actually, the whole radish a root. Radish comes from the Latin radix, which means root. I should go thank my high school etymology teacher). I put the radishes in some stock along with a bit of salt, sugar, and red wine vinegar, then boiled away. I guessed when to add in the onions so they’d cook just a little more.
I didn’t know how the radishes would taste or what to serve with them, so I played it safe with some mashed potatoes (always a favorite) and leftover peas from my stir-fry. The radishes were good, they had a firm texture like other root vegetables, and the flavor was very mild compared to the bite they give when raw. I’m not sold on doing this again, though, as it was labor intensive and underwhelming. I was also a little naively surprised that they didn’t stain everything reddish purple the way beets do; in fact, I’d say the pinkish hue in my dish comes from the red wine vinegar. But that’s just me making a false association between two things with a similar shape.
Am I missing out on radishes here? Or should I head directly for the daikon?