Some of our closest friends out here told us a story about their first CSA. They joined in Boston, and the farmer who started it had learned farming in Japan. They signed up for the very first season, and my friend describes feeling joyfully tearful at finally knowing her farmer and the people who brought her great food. This came to an unfortunate end, however, when they discovered that one of the things their farmer had learned in Japan was the intricacies of growing radishes – many varieties of radish that most Americans have never even heard of. The resulting radish flood put them off of CSAs for a while, and while they are dedicated Farmer’s Market shoppers, we could never get them to join.
Radish, especially daikon, is one of those things that doesn’t play well with lots of American cuisine. You have to get it just right to make it work. So I skipped trying that, went straight for a sweet pickle, and served it with asian style cabbage and Korean cut short rib. It was a good plan.
But oh my God, the smell. I am not exaggerating here when I say that I kept catching a whiff of something foul and thinking that it was time to clean up the toddler’s diaper, only to realize it was the RADISH. It tasted better than it smelled, which, when you set the bar so absolutely low, is hardly surprising. This is the dish that will let you know whether you can handle eating real Asian food, or if you are better off at the Panda Express.
Tyler Florence’s Sweet Pickled Daikon
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 pound daikon radish
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
Meanwhile, peel the daikon radish and slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds. (If your daikon is very large, slice the rounds into semicircles.) Place in a colander with salt and mix well. Place thecolander over a bowl and let drain for 1 hour. Rinse the salt off with a couple of changes of water and dry the daikon well. Put into a sterilized glass jar. Pour the cooled brine through a coffee filter (or a cheesecloth lined strainer) into the jar to cover the radish slices. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Will keep for about 2 weeks.