Ingredient of the Week: Radish
Radishes come from the brassica family of vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. They are the edible root of the plant, although you can also eat the green leaves that grow from them if you wish. They are mainly eaten raw, added in to salads and have a slightly peppery flavour and a crisp, crunchy texture. If you eat the leaves they have a much stronger peppery taste. The most common variety available is the small, round, red-skinned variety, that look a little like cherries. Their flesh is white. You can also find the very similar French variety, where the skin fades from red to pink to white at the root. There is also a black variety, which is more common in Eastern Europe and has a much stronger flavour and a white variety, which is much larger and elongated, looking a little like a carrot. These are mooli or daikon radishes and are popular in Asian cuisine.
Why are they good for me?
Radishes are another good source of vitamin C, which helps to fight infection and disease, as well as help the body to absorb iron. Vitamin C can very easily be damaged or washed away when cooking and as we tend to eat radish raw, this means we maximise the vitamin C uptake. The antioxidant qualities of vitamin C are proven to help fight off cancer causing free radicals produced by the body from exposure to oxygen, which increases when exercising.
Radishes act as a natural diuretic, helping to keep the kidneys functioning efficiently. This is partly due to the potassium they contain, as well as relieving any inflammation caused by infection. Potassium also helps the heart to function correctly and proper effective muscle contractions to take place. It can prevent muscles from cramping and causing pain under stress.
Another health benefit to radish is they contain a good level of fibre. This is what keeps our digestive system working smoothly, preventing blockages and keeping us regular. Fibre also helps to keep us feeling fuller for longer, so is good if you are trying to cut down and lose weight. A diet high in fibre also helps to better regulate blood-sugar levels, keeping them more consistent and so fuelling the body more effectively and for a prolonged amount of time.
How do I prepare them?
Firstly I feel them to check that there are no blemishes to the skin or that they don’t feel spongey. If they do, I discard them as these are not good to eat. After that, all I do is “Top and tail them”, which means simply thinly slice off either end of them. Then slice them to size. I find the leaves too peppery for my liking, so I don’t eat them.
How do I cook them?
Generally radish is best eaten raw in a salad, like this miso salmon and tenderstem one or this mixed bean salad. Possibly my favourite recipe that includes radish is this beef, beetroot and radish one. Want to try something a little different? Then sprinkle them over this Hoisin cod with crispy noodle cake for some texture.
I recently discovered that you can cook radish by adding them to a stir-fry, like in this cabbage and radish one, which still keeps their crispness but intensifies their flavour. Another suggestion for radish is to roast it, but I’m yet to find a recipe for doing this that appeals to me.
It is only recently that I have started to add radishes in to my recipes, as in the past I have found their flavour a little bland and uninspiring. They still aren’t one of my favourite vegetables, but if mixed with plenty of other ingredients, can be made to be more interesting. If you have any radish recommendations, then please do share in the comments below.
Thank you for reading and speak soon.