These rarely seen, dark and mysterious vegetables are a special delight for some of us whose heritage is from the eastern side of Europe. They look something like an anarchist's bomb from the reign of the Tsars.
We were shopping for vegetables and fruits in the mercado yesterday and I was surprised to find two large black radish roots other than at Los Padilla. When I asked the Señora how much, she pointed to the larger and said, "Cincuenta pesos", and the smaller, "Treinta." I felt that was a little high, so we passed them up.
As we were winding up our marketing, we stopped by los Padilla to see what special items they might have.
|From El Mercado de Pátzcuaro 6/5/09 4:28 PM
Whle I waited as they served other customers, my eye caught the two black radishes hidden to the side of the stand, under a cover of acelgas (chard) or some similar verduras.
Arturo asked only $20 MXN for a substantial black radish, a very good price. It weighed perhaps 500 grams.
Soon after we arrived home, I started to prepare a version of my Mom's Black Radish Salad.
Given the unusual size of the specimen, I hard cooked 4 eggs, 2 more than usual. When they were cool, I first washed, peeled and disinfected the radish. The skin was unusually coarse and almost scaly, evoking mental images of black iguanas.
I then cut it into pieces that would fit down the feed tube of our Cuisinart food processor. I set up a coarse shredding disk in the processor.
I cleaned one small onion and peeled the hardcooked eggs. It's an easy task to run the sections of black radish, the eggs and the onion through the shredding disk. The contents were then transferred to a large mixing bowl. (On reflection, it might have been somewhat better to first shred he eggs, the onion, then the radish; which would serve to better clean the shredding plate. Also, the hardcooked eggs shred better when chilled.)
Salt and freshly ground pepper were applied to taste.
Now, we come to a fork in the culinary road. Traditionally, rendered chicken fat cooked down slowly with onions is lightly applied to the salad and tossed in. As we don't have schmaltz und grebenes on hand, I used olive oil. It's less interesting but healthier. One could use toasted Oriental sesame oil to good effect, I think.
It seemed lacking in pungency, so I took the radical step of reconstituting some wasabi in a little water, letting it repose 5 minutes to develop "heat", then blended it into the salad.
Taste again: a few drops of lime juice or white wine vinegar, perhaps, and it's ready to eat. We served it to ourselves on romaine leaves flanked by strips of sweet orange pepper.
Here's another blog's essay on Black Radish: Weird Vegetables.
And this Black Radish Beer is a German style dark beer, but I hope that it doesn't really contain black radish. That would be too weird.
(There's also a Jewish-Eastern European conserve of black radish and ¿honey? which I must investigate. It's not this recipe by Mimi Sheraton, for a long keeping conserve. It definitely has honey in it.)