Saturday, April 4, 2009

Black is the New Radish

No, that's not a piece of charcoal or a root vegetable I left roasting in the oven while I got lost foraging for mushrooms in a dark forest. It is a black radish. Yes. Disconcertingly natural. I found it at Rainbow Grocery the other day and knew it must come home with me. I haven't been able to find out what makes its skin so inky, but I did learn that the black radish is a more everyday sight in eastern Europe. Here is a first-person account of growing black Spanish radishes.

This is serious business, not for the faint of palate. You have to really like root vegetables to enjoy this, like be the kind of person who slices turnips up raw and shoves the pieces into her mouth with a hearty growl. It's not so much that it's spicy, as that it's just really really radishy. The taste is strong, the flesh is tough, the skin is rough. I'm totally into it. I slivered mine unpeeled (!) into one of the most aggressive salads (tastewise) I have ever made:

black radish, white turnip, wild arugula, kumquats, avocado, fennel, tender carrots, bits of stinky French goat cheese, oil and vinegar dressing

It was delicious. To this vegetable chomper, at least.

Add it to your list of Foods that are Black:

black radish
black beans
black lentils
black sesame
black soybeans
black vinegar
black rice

Any more? It's a trend, apparently.

Random memory triggered by this post: As children, one of my brothers and I used to have a joke where we would say, "Black mushroom! Pop!" and slap our palms over our mouths, then laugh uncontrollably. We made it up in the backseat of our parents' Volvo one night on the way home from a Chinese restaurant where we had encountered black mushrooms for the first time. I can't really explain why it was so funny, but it was. Black foods seem to have a slightly unhinging effect on people.


Joyce Moyer Hostetter said...

Tomorrow I'll be interviewing the author of Black Radishes - a WWII era juvenile novel by Susan Lynn Meyer.

I was looking for pics of black radishes and found your blog post. This is fab! I will definitely link to it. Any chance I could borrow a photo?

kale daikon said...

Ooh, yes use it.

Don Cuevas said...

I like the look of that salad.

I occasionally make an Ashkenazic Jewish black radish salad of coarsely shredded black radish, a little chopped onion, chopped hard cooked egg, salt, a light dressing of chicken schmaltz and grebenes.

I have a blog post or two on it somewhere on

Don Cuevas

kale daikon said...

Yum yum yum! I wanna make that salad--when I return to more temperate climes. Here's the link to Don Cuevas's salad:

Anonymous said...

It is hard to find, but it is very healthy. Juice of it with honey is used for mild bronchitis. The salad, my mom did is black radish, sweet onion, cooked beef liver, all shredded and dressed with sunflower oil.... Try it!

Anonymous said...

When I was a child I used to eat Black Radish Sandwiches on Pumpernickel Bread. Does any one know the best spread to put on such a sandwich?

Also has anyone got recipes for cooked black radishes. Thanks.

kale daikon said...

How about adding a hot pink beet spread to that pumpernickel?

Anonymous said...

The best spread is shmaltz (rendered goose or chicken fat) Otherwise some other form of animal fat including butter.

And yes, it requires real dark pumpernickel.

My grandfather loved it.