I promised recently to talk about radishes, the peppery roots that most of us, in the West at any rate, treat as a salad vegetable, and eat raw.
The radish (Raphanus sativus) is a member of the Brassicaceae family which means that it is related to cabbage and mustard (hence its pepperiness.) There are many varieties of radishes in the world, and they have been domesticated and enjoyed by humans since pre-Roman times. It seems that there are many other ways than salad to enjoy radishes, but for those of you who love them this way – have you thought of them for breakfast?
Watercress and Young Radishes.
Cut the stalks off the watercress and lay it in a dish. Wash the radishes and take the tops off, scrape the roots slightly, and slit each one twice across to make it look something like an open flower. Make a bed of watercress in a dish, lay the cut radishes on this, and place a small salt-cellar in the middle of the dish, which is now ready for the table. Watercress and radishes thus arranged have a very pretty effect, and afford a pleasant variety for the breakfast-table.
A Year’s Cookery (London, 1892) by Phyllis Browne.
Or, if you prefer your breakfast radishes cooked:
Radishes and Hop Tops Are served in spring (the radishes being skinned) at asparagus, upon toast with melted butter.
Domestic economy, and cookery, for rich and poor, by a lady (1827)
Common radishes, when young, tied in bunches, and boiled from eighteen to twenty-five minutes, then served on a toast like asparagus, are very good.
Modern Cookery, by Eliza Acton (1858)
The following recipe turned out not to be what I thought from the name – my English heritage leading me to assume that as a “chutney” it would be a thick sweet preserve. It turns out to be an interesting fresh chutney:
One lb. white radishes, 1 cupful milk curd, ½ teaspoonful ground mustard seeds, ¼ teaspoonful dry mustard, ½ teaspoonful ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoonful ground sugar.
Use large white radishes. Wash and shred them fine. Mix with the other indredients to a soft, moist mash.
Auckland Star (New Zealand) 5 June 1937
And here are some ways of cooking your radishes:
For this you may use radishes that have grown rather large for table use. Pare them, cut in dice, plunge in boiling water and cook until tender, then drain. Turn radishes into a good rich cream sauce which you have prepared beforehand, and serve at once.
NZ Truth , 3 October 1925.
“As Pretty as a Picture.”
“As I’m sure there is hardly a Victory Garden without a superabundance of radishes, here is a decorative and tasty way to prepare them,” writes Mrs. George W. Owens, Baltimore, MD. “If radishes are cooked quickly they retain much of their color, and the red radishes, creamy potatoes, and green parsley make an attractive picture as good as it is pretty.
2 cups red radishes
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups small new potatoes
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice.
“Cut off tops and roots of radishes but do not peel. Scrape new potatoes. Cook separately in boiling salted water till tender. Drain, and butter, lemon juice and parsley, mix and serve hot.”
(Mrs Owens, although several radish recipes have appeared here recently, yours is a most pleasing addition to our files. – Mary Lee Swann.)
San Antonio Light, August 1, 1943
And one final idea:
Boiled radishes go very well with stewed steak. Simmer the radishes with the steak itself. Visitors who do not know this recipe will guess that they are eating button mushrooms.
Advocate (Burnie, Tasmania) 2 July 1941