Crisp sweet and slightly spicy

7 Jun 1 Comment Tamara Culinary

 

 

One of the pieces of advice I received when I first moved up to the sierra foothills was to plant things at the right time of the year. Sounds reasonable, but my gardening experience up to that point was in the mild climate of Oakland, where my biggest concern was having enough sunny space in my yard or deck for veggies.  I was used to planting winter veggies pretty much any time I wanted to and they would grow, even in the summer.

But that’s not the case here at 2200 feet elevation in the interior of Northern California.  We actually have seasons here.  Maybe not intense seasons (or at least the winter is not intense, the summer some people might characterize as intense), but our climate still comprises what most people would call seasons.

The first winter growing season we lived here, before I received that piece of advice, I planted broccoli in November (too late), and cabbage in December (too late or too early, depending on how you look at it).  Last year we had such a warm winter that I planted radish seeds in January, thinking that it was warm enough for them to grow, even though my planting chart said not to plant until March.  But nearly all of them just grew leaves and then quickly bolted, without producing very many actual radishes. And the ones that were produced were pretty woody and mostly inedible.

This year I waited until mid-March.  I did some research after my failed attempt last year and learned that radishes need to grow quickly, which means they need warm soil temperatures and enough daylight hours to fuel quick growth.  Planting in January meant there just weren’t enough hours of sunlight, and the night temperatures were probably still too cold, even though it was very warm during the day.

I hedged my bets and planted seven different kinds, primarily daikon varieties, but I also planted a patch of French Breakfast radishes (those disappeared quickly – I adore those).  We were fortunate to experience a long, cool, rainy spring, which was an added boon for the radishes.  They all grew like crazy, producing perfectly crisp, sweet and slightly spicy roots with lush, bountiful greens. But what can I do with a refrigerator full of daikon radishes?  Kimchi of course!  I’ve had a great time pickling and fermenting all kinds of daikons and their greens, with a few different varieties of kimchi still bubbling down in the basement as I write this.

I’ve also been experimenting with fresh radishes:  I made a grilled daikon and romaine salad a few nights ago that was fantastic and super simple:  I grilled 4 romaine halves (also a bountiful crop in our garden this year), along with several slices of daikon (sliced longwise about ¼ inch thick), then chopped and tossed with a miso vinaigrette.

 

 

Here are a few more recipes I would recommend if you have a lot of daikons to use up:

 

Sesame Noodle Salad

Adapted from a recipe in Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chessman

 

For the noodles:

  • 1 lb. dried vermicelli
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

 

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tablespoon chile paste with garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

 

For the salad:

  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 2 cups julienned daikon radish
  • 2 cups thinly sliced daikon radish greens
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

 

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente.  Toss with two tablespoons sesame oil.

Combine the garlic and ginger in a blender and process until finely chopped.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and blend well.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Toss the noodles with the sauce and the rest of the salad ingredients and serve immediately.

 

 

Chinese Fermented Daikon

Makes 3 quarts

This recipe is from the Joy of Pickling, by Linda Ziedrich.

 

  • 3 lbs. daikon radish, peeled
  • 12 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 18 small dried hot peppers, slit lengthwise (I used dried Thai chiles from my 2015 crop)
  • 4 ½ tablespoons pickling salt
  • 6 cups water

 

Cut the daikon into quarters or eighths lengthwise (the strips should be about ½ inch thick) and then crosswise into 1 ½ inch lengths.  Layer the daikon, ginger and hot peppers in each  quart jar, distributing evenly among the jars.

Dissolve the salt in the water and pour enough brine over the vegetables to cover them. Push a pint-size freezer bag into the mouth of each jar and pour the remaining brine into the bags.  Seal the bags. Let stand at room temperature.

After 2 – 3 days, when the daikon is as sour as you like, remove the bring-bag and cap the jor.  Store the pickle in the refrigerator, where it should keep for several weeks.

Note: the original recipe only calls for 2 chiles per jar. I made them with six and they are very spicy, the way I like them, but if you want less spicy use fewer chiles.

 

P.S. A quick update on the county planning process:  The first stage of our special use permit application was deemed complete by the El Dorado County Planning Department. Next step is each department (water, fire, environmental health, traffic) has until June 16 to weigh in on the project design with any questions, concerns and/or requirements.  We have an official meeting on June 20 to discuss the required changes to the project design, if any. We will know a lot more about where we stand, the Reverie development timeline, and if we can even afford to do it at all, after that meeting. Wish us luck that all goes well!