Thursday, December 3, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Beauty Heart Radishes

By Sarah Janes Ugoretz
This week, we’re focusing our attention on the aesthetically pleasing and oh-so-delicious beauty heart radish! Also called watermelon, Chinese red meat or misato radishes, beauty hearts are an Asian variety that offer a vibrant splash of color that stays with us as the long days of winter set in and—depending on whether you’re a winter person—drone on.

A member of the mustard family, Raphanus sativus are one of the oldest cultivated foods. Today, radishes can be, and often are, classified by season. Beauty hearts are typically included in the winter radish bunch and are excellent for storing, their light green skin concealing their captivating magenta-colored interior and mildly spicy flesh.

Beauty Heart Radish
For those who shy away from radishes, beauty hearts are most definitely deserving of your attention. While more straightforward varieties may be regarded as pungent, spicy and bitter, beauty hearts have more of a delicate flavor and lack an in-your-face bite. This, along with their versatility, lends them to a variety of preparations. Slice them thinly and serve raw—plain, as a garnish or on salads. Beauty hearts also make an excellent addition to stir fries or Asian soups. If you opt for heated preparations, be sure to cook these radishes lightly so as to preserve their color and pleasant crunch.

An admirer of these unique radishes, I decided to make them the star of my Thanksgiving contribution. I decided to keep things simple by following Edible Madison’s Beauty Heart Radish and Sesame Seed Salad (see recipe below). I’ll admit that I was certain many of my extended family members would take a pass on this dish but, to my delight, they proved me wrong. This is all to say that beauty heart radishes are a unique and exciting crowd pleaser!

Radishes in general are valued as a digestive aid, as well as a detoxifier and blood cleanser. Beauty hearts provide a solid source of vitamins B, C and K, along with folate and essential minerals like manganese, calcium and iron. Store them in a sealed plastic bag in your refrigerator and resist the urge to peel them when you’re preparing them. There’s no need!

Beauty Heart Radish & Sesame Seed Salad

Yield:  4 servings
1 large beauty heart radish
1 Tbsp roasted tahini
½ tsp stone ground mustard
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp mirin (sweet rice cooking wine)
½ tsp tamari
2 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted
Parsley for garnish (optional)

  1. Wash and cut beauty heart radish in half lengthwise (do not peel), then carefully cut each half into very thin half-moon slices.  Array the slices prettily on a platter.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together tahini, mustard, rice vinegar, mirin and tamari with a fork until well-combined.
  3. Drizzle over beauty hearts and sprinkle with sesame seeds and thinly sliced parsley, if you wish.

PREPARATION NOTE:  If you’re looking for a slightly less fancy version of this salad, try this approach.  Cut the beauty heart radish into thin matchstick sized strips.  Double the ingredients for the dressing.  Toss the radish strips in the dressing to make more of a slaw.  Mix in the fresh parsley & some cilantro if you like (highly recommended).  Finish the slaw by adding the sesame seeds.

**This recipe was created by our friend, Dani Lind.  Her recipe was published in Edible Madison magazine and can be found on their website along with her feature article all about beauty heart radishes.

Mushroom & Miso Soup with Beauty Heart Radishes

by Chef Andrea Yoder
Yield:  4-5 Servings
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 oz dried mushrooms
¼ tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1 small carrot, diced very small
Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
1 large beauty heart radish, diced very small
4 Tbsp miso
  1. Put chicken stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the chicken stock until the liquid is just hot.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, onion, dried mushrooms and red pepper flakes.  Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the carrot as well as the black and white pepper.  Simmer an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  You want to add just enough white pepper so you get just a hint of its flavor and enough black pepper that it tickles your tongue and brightens up the soup.
  4. Put about 2-3 Tbsp of beauty heart radishes in each person’s soup bowl.  Ladle the hot soup over the radishes and serve each bowl of soup with 1 Tbsp of miso (any variety you choose will work) to stir into the warm soup.

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