Here’s a concise guide to radish varieties, and how to prep and use them. Surprisingly versatile, radishes can be served in a number of simple, tasty ways. Some radishes are pretty and petite, covered in skin that’s crimson, purple, or white. With alluring names such as Easter Egg, French Breakfast or Icicle, these small table radishes vary in shape, from plump spheres to skinny, carrot-like root shapes.
Common red radishes are part of this group, too. These small, crisp root vegetables have flavor profiles that vary from mild to quite peppery. The green leaves that spring from their tops are edible. They are peppery and can be cooked or used raw mixed with other milder greens in salad.
Black radishes and watermelon radishes are midsized, roughly 3 to 5 inches in diameter. They’re shaped like turnips, and their flavor profiles range from mild turniplike tastes for the watermelon radishes to the biting assertiveness of the black variety. Greens are seldom sold attached.
Larger radishes such as daikon and lo bok, sometimes classified as Asian radishes, can be more than 15 inches long. They can be used interchangeably for one another in recipes.
This information is excerpted and adapted from Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know About Fresh Fruits and Vegetables by Cathy Thomas ©2006, reprinted by permission of Melissa’s Produce.
Buying and Storage
Look for firm radishes without cracks or soft spots. If you pinch them and they have any give, they’re past their prime. If greens are attached, they should be firm and green, not wilted.
With table radishes, if they’re large for their variety, the interior may be pithy. If purchased with greens attached, trim leaves before storage, leaving about 1/2 inch of stems attached to radish. Refrigerate separately, unwashed, in plastic bags in crisper drawer.
Refrigerate without leaves up to 14 days; larger radishes, such as black, watermelon, daikon, and lo bok, can often be stored longer. Greens deteriorate quickly; use within 2 days. Most radishes are in season and available year-round.
How to prep radishes
Wash any radishes whose skin stays on thoroughly in cold running water. For small table radishes, trim and discard roots. Trim the ends for serving raw as finger food. Serve whole, or slice.
For black radish, daikon, lo bok, or watermelon radish, peel with vegetable peeler. Or, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds and cut skin away with a paring knife. Slice further, dice, or shred.
Black radish is most often salted, then drained to take away some of its assertive flavor; it is then served raw as a condiment or as crudités.
Black Radish: Dull black or dark brown skin. Medium-large, baseball- to softball-sized and turnip-shaped. Sharp pungent bite. Crisp but drier than other varieties.
Common (red) radish: Round or oval table radishes with bright red skin and white flesh. Crisp with varying degrees of peppery bite. Quite similar to purple plum radish.
Daikon radish: A Japanese radish with a long, tapering thick carrot-like shape (most often sold trimmed of leaves). Can be about a foot long with a 3-inch diameter. Creamy white skin and flesh. Juicy with flavor profile that is more peppery than table radishes but milder than black radish. Lo bok is a Korean radish that’s similar to daikon, but less elongated and plumper at the “waist.” Large, generally 6 to 15 inches long and 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Crisp and peppery.
Easter egg radish: Group of small radishes that vary in vibrant colored skin: pink, purple, red, white, and violet. Generally spherical. All have white flesh. Crisp and moderately peppery, with a flavor much like common red radishes.
French breakfast radish: Oblong small radishes with scarlet skin that is white at tip. Crisp and moderately peppery.
Icicle radish: Tapered, carrot-like radishes with white skin and flesh. Crisp and moderately peppery.
Purple daikon: With a pale lavender purple skin and a splashy purple and white interior, this variant of white daikon is crisp and flavorful. Usually about 5 inches long. Nearly identical to Bordeaux radish.
Watermelon radish: Turnip-shaped with very pale green to whitish skin and interior color similar to watermelons (bright fuchsia surrounded with white). Medium size, generally 3 inches in diameter. Crisp and mild turnip-like taste; a slight sweetness mixed with mild peppery notes.
All radishes are super low in calories and carbs — 1/2 cup has only about 12 calories. While they’re not a superfood, they contribute to your daily fiber intake, and are good sources of potassium and folate. Here’s the full nutrition profile of radishes.
How to use radishes
Small radish can be trimmed, scrubbed, and sliced to use in salads and composed cold platters. Peel and dice large radishes (or cut into thin half-moons) to be added to salads or veggie platters. See Purple Daikon Salad with Golden Beets and Bok Choy.
Simple radish salads: Team up two or three varieties of radish in simple salads like the one shown above. No recipe needed!
Pickled radishes: Radishes are ideal for pickling. Trim an halve small radishes; peel and thinly slice larger ones. Cut very large slices into half moons. Use the brine from the recipe for Quick and Easy Refrigerator Pickles.
Roasted radishes: All radishes are can be served raw but can be delicious when braised, sautéed, or roasted. Try Dianne Wenz’s Chili-Lime Roasted Radishes. You can also cut large radishes like daikon into fry shapes and roast them as you would potato oven fries at 425ºF.
Cooked or stir-fried: Daikon and lo bok, the largest of the radishes, are most often used raw or pickled but can be used in stews, soups, braises, and stir-fries. Try this easy, delectable Daikon & Cabbage Stir-Fry.
Daikon and carrot salad: For this classic Japanese cold dish, simply combine a roughly equal amount of peeled, grated daikon and carrot in a serving bowl. Add a thinly sliced scallion or two; dress with rice vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste. Optional: add a small amount or toasted pine nuts or sprinkle in some sesame seeds.
Toast toppers: Top avocado toast or hummus toast with thin slices of any type of radish. Sprinkle with fresh dill.
Versatile watermelon radish: There are so many uses for this vivid, tasty radish — see How to Use Watermelon Radish — Tasty and Colorful Ideas. You can definitely use some of these ideas for other types of radishes.
Bountiful bowls: Thinly sliced radishes are a welcome addition to your colorful Buddha bowls and vegan poke bowls.
Cocktail garnishes: Watermelon radish and purple daikon make eye-catching garnishes for cocktail and mocktail glasses.
Dip scoopers: Peeled and thinly sliced full rounds of larger radishes (watermelon, black, and daikon) can be used to scoop up hummus and other dips in place of chips.
Radishes and … butter? Cleaned, trimmed radishes smeared with butter and sprinkled with sea salt is a formula for a simple, classic appetizer. I’m not sure who it was who first thought that radishes and butter go together; it sounds weird, but since this idea has been around for a long time, what do I know? Try it with vegan butter. It seems like French breakfast radishes and icicle radishes would be the best bets for this.
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