Soy Sauce Red Radishes
Barbara Tropp was on track to become a doctorate of Chinese poetry at Princeton, but got waylaid by a two year stint in Taiwan where foodie hosts immersed her in Chinese culinary delights. Upon her return, instead of writing about Chinese poetry, she wrote about Chinese food, much to the delight of American foodies.
This dish also takes me back to my childhood. In my dad's version, instead of cutting the radishes into fans, he crushed them with a big cleaver. I remember hearing the thwack of the cleaver, followed by the crunch of the radish. As a young child, I found that pretty dramatic, even a bit "living on the edge".
As an adult, it's pretty fun crushing stuff, but still, I wouldn't get too crazy with smashing the cleaver. Make sure the radish is resting on a flat cut side, otherwise they're apt to roll away when you bring down the knife. I've had one fly and roll out of the kitchen and into the dining room.
You can serve these as an appetizer or as a garnish with other Chinese dishes, such as Orchid's Tangy Noodles.
Soy Sauce Red Radishes
Adapted from The Modern Art of Chinese Cooking by Barbara Tropp
Serves 2-3 as a nice munch, 4-6 as a smaller nibble
Trim both ends neatly, leaving ends flat and stark white; then wash/scrub clean:
1 bunch red radishes, about 1 dozen
Place radish cut side down. Smash with side of large chef's knife or cleaver, exposing radish flesh and creating lots of nooks and crannies to soak up the marinade. If radishes are very large, break into 2-3 pieces.
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
Set aside for 45 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a 13-16oz glass jar with lid, shake together until blended and slightly thick:
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons regular (thin) soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Drain radishes, then squeeze several at a time between your hands to extract excess liquid. Press, do not wring. Add radishes to glass jar, screw on lid and shake to distribute marinade. For best flavor, marinate 5-6 hours at room temperature or overnight in refrigerator. Shake jar occasionally while marinating.
Serve chilled. Radishes will keep 2-3 days, sealed and refrigerated.