What a terrible mistake I’d made. It burned, as if I had just consumed a massive amount of wasabi. The pain wasn’t instant. It was subtle at first, but then the damn thing attacked. I frantically looked around the kitchen, opening all the drawers and cabinets to see what I could put in my mouth to cure myself of the agony. I needed something… anything, really. But as soon as the burning reached its pinnacle, it began to subside.
This was my first experience with black radish.
The black radish is the bad big brother to the red radish we are all familiar with. In size and in punch, this is so much bolder than what I’ve ever had. There’s that bite that hits you, a combo of black pepper and horseradish, but the effect is tenfold to what you get with the little guys.
My original concept of a raw salad was out. I’m sure there’s a way to mellow the suckers, but I wasn’t ready to head in that direction… not in my first go around, at least. But a salad was what I was in the mood for and, by golly, I wasn’t going to let the radish stop me from having what I wanted!
The pan came out, a drizzle of oil and a light seasoning of salt (no pepper, just to be safe). They browned so beautifully around the edges and, after just a few minutes, I had my salad composed. Segmented grapefruit, caramelized shallots, a handful of pinenuts… and my slices of cooked black radishes, no longer the bad boys they once were. My new friends.
Note: I did not peel the radishes, though some places I’ve seen it recommended (I am not sure why, exactly). You should, of course, clean them properly, as I make mention to in the recipe.
Black Radish and Grapefruit Salad
1 black radish, scrubbed with a vegetable brush and washed under cold water
1 red grapefruit, segmented
1 shallot, sliced thinly
1/4 cup pine nuts
6-8 lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1. Slice the black radish into 1/4 inch rounds using a mandoline (or very carefully with a knife).
2. Put 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan and set over medium heat. When the oil has heated, add the slices of black radish in a single layer (you may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of the pan) and season with a sprinkle of salt. Cook for a few minutes on either side, or until each side has browned around the edges. Transfer the slices to a plate that has been layered with paper towel.
3. Sauté the shallots in the same pan for a minute or so, just so they start to caramelize. Remove from heat.
4. Assemble your salad by placing the lettuce in one layer on a large round platter. Place the black radish on top of the lettuce, then the grapefruit segments. At this point, sprinkle with the cooked shallot and then the pine nuts. Season with another pinch of salt and a few cracks of fresh black pepper.