This spicy-sweet brassica boasts a surprising range, with a wide spectrum of shapes, colors, flavors, and growing seasons. It plays a role in traditional food cultures around the world, from Japan to Mexico to France.
The radish is believed to have been domesticated in Central Asia around the 3rd century BC and spread quickly to Europe and later the Americas. It has played a role in food cultures throughout time, from the Egyptian laborers who built the pyramids being paid in radishes, to the people of Oaxaca, Mexico who still celebrate a holiday known as Night of the Radishes.
Radishes are a rich source of vitamins C and B6, potassium and calcium, as well as trace minerals such as magnesium and copper.
Snip off leaves about ¼ inch from the top of the radish, clean off any soil, wrap in a cloth or paper towel, and store in an unsealed bag or container in the refrigerator crisper for up to 2 weeks.
The raw radish can be julienned or shaved as a topping for tacos, added to slaws, or fermented with rice vinegar and soy for an Asian pickle. Radishes can be roasted, braised, or even halved and added to the grill—the smoky char adds a wonderful dimension to their spicy flavor. Radish leaves add a kick to any salad or sauteed greens.
Thinly slice or shave radishes, and toss with a mixture of shredded cabbage and cilantro. Add lime juice, olive oil, and salt, and allow to marinate. Serve alongside enchiladas or barbacoa, or add avocado chunks and toasted pepitas for a delicious salad.
Most of the radish’s spicy flavor is concentrated in the skin. Leave on to enjoy the tangy kick, or for a mellower flavor, simply peel before cooking or eating. Larger radishes can sometimes have a bitter flavor—remove by salting and letting them sit for a while before serving.