“Healthy is not yummy”, is the perception most people have about nutritious food. This is the reason why we struggle with feeding broccoli to children (and adults). Radishes could have been sitting on that list for a long time, had it not been for their taste. There is no other vegetable that has the signature radish taste variety.
We say variety because the taste changes and develops over some time.
Categorized as some of the most nutritious vegetables there are, radishes range from sweet to pungent and from peppery to mild in taste. The white radish taste may be the most commonly known across all palettes, given the popularity and the easy access to the variety.
However, watermelon and black radishes, the lesser savored variants have lots to offer in terms of taste, flavor, and body to any recipe they are picked for.
One could go on and on about the various recipes to cook this beautiful root vegetable, and they’d still not suffice. Each recipe and method changes the radish taste radically. Whether you are a lover of sweet or spicy, raw or cooked, fresh or aged, there is a recipe that incorporates radishes in each of these. However, there are some methods that bring out the best radish taste. Here are some of our favorite ways to eat radishes:
Raw: Wash and peel them and eat them raw. Simple. Just bite away and savor the natural radish taste.
Roasted: Roasted radishes develop this delectable burnt-roasted flavor with a mild sweetness. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the radish and enjoy them as a delicious side dish.
Salads: Radish salads are quick, easy, and oh-so-delicious! You can either include them in a mixed veg salad or make one celebrating this root vegetable. Top the salad with some radish leaves, and you have included all parts of the root in your meal. Fuss-free!
Sandwiches/Wraps: There are multiple ways of doing this right. The basic one is to include radishes in the sandwich/wrap filling. Another method is to make a cool radish slaw and serve it with the sandwich or wrap it in a tortilla. If you like some crunch with your meal, dehydrate some radish slices in the microwave and bake them in the oven. Your healthy and crispy radish chips are ready! These go well as a side with sandwiches and wraps.
Kimchi: Check out some of the most viral Korean radish kimchi recipes and add more zing to your main dishes.
Pickles: This is for those who love their radishes and like to have them as a cross between sweet-sour. Pickled radish stays fresh in the refrigerator for over a month. Pickled radishes fill into your daily dose of radishes without compromising on its qualities.
Radish/Turnip Cakes: Vibrant, healthy and flavorful, radish cakes work as a fantastic appetizer or as an entire meal. The stir-fried version of the radish cake is the most popular. For those watching their weight, try the steamed version of the recipe.
Spring Rolls: If you like the healthier and fresher version, go for the Vietnam rolls and if you are craving something crunchy, go for the regular deep-fried ‘egg roll’ version.
While these recipe ideas work for all radish varieties, certain types can bring out better results as compared to others. For instance, black radish tastes the best when roasted, while pickles bring the best flavors out of white radishes. Often, daikon (white radishes) are confused or mixed with Korean radishes. But there are differences.
Here are some pointers on how Korean radishes look and taste:
- They are round, stout, and short.
- They have smooth white skin.
- Their heads have green tops.
- They have a stronger peppery flavor as compared to daikon radishes.
- They have an inherent sweetness that can be brought out via pickles and kimchis.
Flavour-wise, Korean radishes are a cross between sweet and peppery which makes them a perfect fit for most dishes and recipes.
Korean radishes are usually used for pickles, kimchis and rolls. While the popular daikon radish is the chosen replacement, if one has access to Korean radishes, it is always better to use them for authentic Korean cuisine.
While this variant may seem exotic and region-specific, more stores have opened doors to Korean radishes and several other radish varieties that have been missing from the market.
As far as radish taste is concerned, there is a general confusion about their hotness. This can be discussed through some factors that can change the flavor profile of any radish type.
Soil: You may be surprised but the soil usually has a primary role to play in developing the signature radish flavor. If the soil lacks the necessary nutrients and minerals, the radishes may not grow out and may develop a rather woody or unpleasant taste.
Sun: It is common knowledge that radishes need a lot of sunlight. But this is not only associated with their growth. Ample sunlight helps develop the taste and the crunch that we love in radishes.
Water: Watering your plants is the first rule of gardening. It helps with their growth and development as well as in helping to build the necessary vitamins and minerals that make each vegetable and fruit unique.
Timely Harvest: While one may follow all three major steps leading to the harvest, it is important to pull the radish roots out of the soil at the right time. This helps with their shelf life, ensures that they have enough benefits to tap into and the right taste to savor them.
While the harvesting process is quick and basic with radishes, time is the key. Take a radish such as daikon. If one harvests the root at the right time, you will have the crunchiest and sweetest daikon there is. For those who love a zing in their daikon, leave it in the soil for another week and you will have daikon with a slight zing or peppery taste.
The same can be said about watermelon or black radishes (and every other variant). Since watermelon and black radishes are already quite hot, one needs to be extra careful during a late harvest. Sometimes these radishes develop a slightly bitter taste and we savor the flavor anyway.
This begs the question,
Are Radishes Supposed to Taste Bitter?
No. Radishes are not supposed to taste bitter at all. While radish taste is well known, there is an entire science after how vegetables develop their trademark taste. Radishes are some of the easiest vegetables to cultivate and grow, but they have certain requirements that have been discussed before
- Enough sunlight
- Regular watering
- Soil with nutrients and fertilizers
While these are some of the most basic answers to the bitter taste radishes develop sometimes, there are other contributing factors.
Choice of Season: Apart from the soil, sunlight, and water, the choice of the season to grow radishes can radically impact their growth and taste. If radishes are grown in the monsoon, it will be an absolute disaster. Similarly, excessive sunlight can also be harmful.
Harvest Time: If harvested too soon, radishes will turn bad almost immediately and develop a woody or a bitter taste. The same can happen if they are left in the soil for too long.
Storage: Do not wash the radishes before storing them. This is usually the reason they turn bad and begin to taste bitter.
Shopping: While shopping for radishes at the market, ensure that the radishes are firm and do not have soggy ends. Daikon radishes must not have green or yellow spots. Radish leaves must look fresh and crunchy.
Under any circumstances, consuming bitter-tasting radishes is not okay. if consumed in a large quantity, they may cause some infection or uneasiness. Dispose of any bitter-tasting radishes.
Radish taste ranges from sweet to peppery and all variations in between. It is not supposed to taste bitter. Whether you like growing them in the backyard or pick up fresh ones from the market, they must be crunchy and firm to hold with no colored spots. Happy eating.