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Author Notes: I used to use radishes only as garnish.
When I stayed in a zen temple in France, they taught me to eat them with butter and salt.
Later, I got the idea of making 'tataki' with them from culinary artist Itsuko Makita's recipe in the Croissan Bio magazine (Japanese cooking magazine on macrobiotic-style recipes). Now when I find plump radishes, this is what I often make.
The name 'tataki,' when used in a vegetable dish, is a technique of cracking vegetables (it comes from the verb 'tataku' which means 'punch' or 'knock'). It's a technique often used with cucumber and burdock. Cracked vegetables absorb condiments better, and have a nice texture that makes them more pleasant to eat.
It's also fun to do; I usually use a wooden spatula, but you can also use a rolling pin (which Ms. Makita suggests). After that, just a pinch of salt, then a splash of lemon, which brightens up the color of the radishes.
The garnish is made with lemon peel. In Japanese cooking, there are various styles of cutting garnish; the one I did here is one of the easiest ones, called 'kumi-matsuba,' or crossed pine needles. You can make it by cutting out a small rectangle, cutting two slits to make an "s," then crossing the two ends together. —Kyoko Ide
Makes 1 cup
- 1 bunch radish, leaves and root ends cut off
- 1 pinch salt
- juice of half lemon
- 1 piece lemon peel
- Crack the radishes with a wooden spatula or rolling pin. Add the salt and the lemon juice and mix well. Set aside for a few minutes.
- Cut the lemon peel, make 'crossed pine needles', and put it on the radishes as garnish (optional).