Radishes are a vegetable that I don’t think I ate until I was an adult. I think I probably thought of them as a solely English/European thing as I remember reading about French radishes with butter and salt, and seeing pictures in books such as Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Initially I think I probably had them in salads, adding that combination of cool crunch and heat, and more recently I’ve tried them cooked; not something I would initially have thought of, but they are lovely roasted, or sautéed, as in my recipe for radishes with spelt.
They are also one of Mr M’s favourite vegetables, as crunch and heat are two of his favourite things! This gives me the opportunity to segue to the point of this post, as one of his other favourite things is Asian food, particularly Chinese, and particularly spicy, and Fuchsia Dunlop’s amazing book Every Grain of Rice perfectly fits the bill. I can’t remember when I first heard about it, but after multiple rave reviews I bought a copy a year or so ago, and haven’t stopped using it since!
We’ve made many, many recipes from it, from the Bear’s paw tofu and Red-braised beef with tofu ‘bamboo’, to the Gong bao chicken and Twice-cooked Swiss chard, to the incredibly delicious Sichuanese ‘send-the-rice-down’ celery with minced beef. We’ve loved all of them, but some of our favourites are the cold vegetable side dishes, incredibly simple dishes that are effectively quick pickles, but beautifully flavoured ones with very Chinese flavours.
We’ve made several of these small dishes – the Smacked cucumber in garlicky sauce, the Kohlrabi salad with sesame oil, and the subject of this post, the Radishes in chilli oil sauce. The recipe seems so simple when you look at the ingredients, it’s hard to imagine how delicious it is, but the combination of soy, chilli and sesame infused into the salted radishes is quite irresistible. Please give it a try – and if you love Chinese food and want to try more unusual and fabulous recipes then buy the book!*
*I bought the book myself, and have no relationship with Fuchsia Dunlop (I wish!) or any book retailer, but I love this so much I have to recommend it 🙂
Radishes in chilli oil sauce (Quiang luo bo)
Adapted (barely) from Fuchsia Dunlop’s wonderful Every Grain of Rice
- 2 bunches small radishes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 1 1/2 Tbs light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbs chilli oil*
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
Trim radishes, halve any large ones, and ‘smack’ lightly with your hand on the side of the knife to slightly crack the radishes. Combine radishes with the salt in a small bowl and leave for 30 minutes. Mix sugar, soy, chilli oil and sesame oil together in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
After 30 minutes, the radishes should have released quite a bit of water. Drain and shake dry before mixing well with the dressing.
*You can buy the chilli oil or make it by combining Sichuan or Korean chilli powder with hot oil and then cooling. The oil should be hot enough to sizzle gently, but not anywhere near smoking.