Even today, as Emma serves as the executive chef of Manhattan’s restaurant Aquavit – rated two stars in the Michelin Guide and three stars by the New York Times – that’s her favorite way to eat radishes. In fact, a couple of years ago, on her bite-sized tasting menu, she offered diners a chance to appreciate the beauty of buttered, salted radishes. “I say, keep the radishes just as they are.”
And, even when they are an element of a culinary creation of hers, she makes sure they have a key place in that dish. “Because of the amazing flavor and crunch of petite radishes,” Emma says, “they are too valuable to cook. Turning them into something else is just a shame. Instead, I love to highlight them as a raw ingredient, especially in my fish dishes, to provide extra crunch and tang.”
Her favorite petite radish is the cherry bomb. Besides appreciating its flavor and crunch, the vivid hue is “definitely important.” Take a look at Emma’s stunning plating and you’ll quickly see how important the color palette is to her – so it’s not surprising that she “loves to see the red being so bright.”
She also appreciates other radishes with a bit more size, with the watermelon radish and purple ninja radish among her favorites. “Even then,” she tells us, “I don’t cook them.”
Ever, we wondered? Does she ever cook radishes? “Occasionally,” she says, “I ferment them, but not those from The Chef’s Garden. They’re just too valuable, already grown with all the love they need.”
You can read more about them – and why we love them – in our post titled Petite Radishes: Miniature-Sized Delights. And, here’s where you can find the cherry bomb radish, the one so highly praised by Chef Emma. You’ll appreciate its mildly spicy flavor in your dishes, along with its crisp, crunchy texture. Cook it and the flavor becomes milder, its texture nice and creamy. The outside is, as you might suspect, cherry red – and the inside is brightly contrasting white.
The watermelon radish is also eye-catching, with a white to light green outer skin with an inner flesh that’s a beautiful bright pink. Its flavor is mild to sweet, peppery, with a crisp texture. Then there is the purple ninja radish, with pink skin and red flesh near that skin. In the white core of the somewhat cylindrical root, you’ll find interesting red specks. The flavor? Spicy! The texture? Firmer than you’ll find in other varieties of radishes, due to the low water content.
Which of these types of fresh radishes capture your attention?