How to Eat Every Type of Radish
Once upon a time, at a coffee shop in downtown San Francisco, I ordered avocado toast. When the plate was set in front of me, I gasped. What are these paper thin, fuschia-streaked rounds adorning my overpriced millennial snack?
It was a watermelon radish, and I had never seen anything so beautiful. I’ve always been fond of radishes but these are nothing like those little red bunches at the grocery store. They’re big. They’re sweet. They’re gorgeous. When I found them in the Good Eggs Marketplace, I immediately added a pound to my order and ate a whole one for dinner, raw, with salt. This story is a love story, and it’s only just beginning.
In addition to being delicious, radishes are full of fiber and antioxidant vitamin C, along with other vitamins and nutrients, including compounds called glucosinolates, which are being investigated by researchers because they may reduce the risk of certain cancers. Radishes are hardy and easy to grow, too, so while their peak season is in spring, some varieties are available year-round.
Here’s how I like to eat, or plan to eat (with tips from fellow radish fan and Good Eggs head chef, Chris Chapman), every variety of radish:
These are the familiar, mildly spicy radishes I fell in love with as a kid. My favorite way to eat them — aside from popping them straight into my mouth with a sprinkle of salt — is sliced into taco salad with black beans, avocado, queso fresco, and pepitas. You can also add them raw or roasted with other root veggies to grain bowls, risotto, flatbreads, and pasta dishes.
French Breakfast Radish
The French apparently eat these for breakfast, which I’m into. Go classic and enjoy with fresh bread, good butter (or vegan spread), and a sprinkle of flaky salt if you want to be fancy. These are also delightfully dippable additions to any appetizer spread.
Black Spanish Radish
These are spicier and cooler looking than the other varieties. Chris says to keep the nutrient-packed skin on and balance the heat with a creamy dip like tzatziki or green garlic yogurt sauce. These also make great chips — air fry or bake thin slices with a drizzle of olive oil and salt.
Mild and sweet, these beauties are best simply sliced or wedged raw on salads and crudites platters. Shave thin for an exceptionally photogenic avocado toast — I like to top mine with pepitas or togarashi as a snack, or an egg for breakfast. Or you can just bite into them like an apple, that’s ok too.
Native to East and Southeast Asia (the name means “big root” in Japanese), these mild and crunchy winter radishes are often pickled or marinated — bahn mi is my personal favorite application. Shred with carrot and marinate in rice vinegar, sugar, a pinch of salt, and maybe some cilantro and jalapeno. I plan to do this for the next barbecue I’m invited to, for hot dogs. You can also mix grated daikon with ponzu, or simmer in mirin and sugar to top Asian-inspired dishes.
Like the watermelon radish, these are very pretty, quite juicy, mild, and sweet. They pickle well but also are excellent raw with a sprinkle of chile lime salt and a squeeze of lime, as recommended by Chris.
Finally, the radish’s best-kept secret: the greens are edible. Snap them off for storage, but hang on to them — using the greens will reduce your food waste and stretch your grocery purchase. Young leaves have a bold peppery flavor like mustard greens or broccoli raab — add them to soup, whip up a pesto, or saute them with olive oil, salt, and a little garlic for a quick side.
What’s your favorite kind of radish and how do you like to eat them?