Radishes make rad dishes!
A member of the mustard family, radishes have a peppery flavour and a crisp, crunchy texture. The most common variety are the small, cherry-sized with red skin and white flesh, but radishes come in many different sizes and shapes.
The mustardy tang or pungency of a radish comes from an essential oil that is concentrated near the surface, just beneath the skin, and this can vary from variety to variety, i.e. the European black radish has a strong, pungent flavour yet the Asian daikon is much milder.
While they undeniably can spice up a dish, radishes should not be relegated to simply garnish.
Raw radishes have a peppery taste but cooked have a mellow, sweeter taste.
Raw, they are delicious eaten whole, especially the little ones, served with a dip from a herbed yoghurt or creamy hummus. Slice or quarter them and toss in a salad with citrus or vinaigrette with walnuts and rocket. Slice thinly and add to a sandwich, especially one with a cream egg or chicken filling. Grate with carrots; mix through a sweet-and-sour dressing as a lovely side dish.
Pickle for a peppery tang that can be added to any number of dishes from sushi to burgers.
Or cook them for something different. Roasted, they are a delicious alternative to courgettes. Keep their skins on, as these get wonderfully crispy, drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Radishes can also be sautéed or tossed in a stir-fry.
Radishes pair beautifully with chicken livers, chives, lettuce, mild fish, mint, spring onions, scallops, smoked salmon and vinaigrette.
Radishes are great for those on a keto diet as a low-carb alternative for potatoes.
The most common radish in New Zealand with a red skin and a solid, crisp, white flesh.
Like the common red radish but with an elongated shape rather than round. The bright red skin tapers to white towards the root. Mild in flavour, they are perfect to eat raw, or at breakfast, like the French do.
Also known as Japanese, giant radish and Chinese radish, lo baak and lo bok. This large cucumber-shaped white radish is popular in Asian countries.
The black radish is the size of a large red radish or turnip but dull black with a pungent flavour like horseradish. The black radish is drier than other radishes and a favourite in Eastern Europe where it is often paired with sour cream or seafood.
Sautéed, they have a meaty, steamed potato texture. Fried, they make moreish chips.
Sweet and crunchy, the stunning watermelon radish is the size and shape of a red radish but with green skin and pink to red-colour flesh that radiates out from its centre.
Radishes can be sown almost year round, although they prefer the more temperate conditions of spring and autumn, when the soil is moist and cool rather than winter or the heat of summer, when dry conditions will see them bolt to seed.
Due to their rapid growth cycle, they can be grown across the country at different times of year. The majority of crops come out of the Manawatu through to the northern growing areas.
Always trim the leaves off before storing, as these will draw moisture from the radishes. Store in the chiller for 3–4 days.