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Author Notes: The literal translation of this Chinese radish is "Inner Beauty"; you can see why. The xinlimei (SHIN-lee-may; 心里美) looks nondescript with a pale-jade skin, but slice into it and it reveals a pretty, fuchsia flush.
This peppery, assertive salad gets its kicks from the natural wasabi-like zing of the radish, the spicy raw garlic and the heat of a sizzled dried chilis. Serve it as a salad, in which you may like to add some frisée leaves or cabbage slaw with carrots (just the vegetables, not the mayo dressing), or on its own as a spicy-and-crunchy complement to hot entrées.
The way the radish is cut into "petals" is quite unusual by vegetable standards but a classic in Chinese cuisine for this dish. I reccomend letting the radish sit in the dressing overnight, covered in the fridge, to absorb the flavours, but don't hesitate to eat it right away as is commonly done.
Each Sunday I post a salad based on classic Chinese salad recipes, which I post on www.jamiepea.com. I tweak and standardize so it's all-natural (no MSG!), easy to make and enjoyable for the traditional and noob palate alike. Each recipe can be enjoyed as a "Western-style" salad, by consulting my leafy greens pairing suggestions; or of course the Chinese way, as-is as a cold starter or side dish. —Jamie Pea
Serves 2 as a salad 4 as a side dish
- 1 Chinese "Inner Beauty" pink radish (xinlimei; SHIN-lee-may))
- 1 clove of garlic
- 3 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon Chinkiang black vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 piece dried Sichuan chili (or other large dried chili)
- 3 sprigs cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted white sesame seeds
- Wash and peel the radish, lopping off the gnarly ends. Go around the whole bulb with a vegetable peeler. Then, using a very sharp knife, slice off pieces by turning the radish as you cut irregular, not-too-thick "petals", essentially beveling the sides of the whole radish. go around the radish top to bottom, about three times (you should end up with about 300 grams of petals). Set aside and plastic-wrap the leftover radish for another use (such as in a coleslaw).
- Finely mince the garlic or push it through a garlic crusher. Combine with the soy sauce, water, vinegar and sugar and set aside.
- Heat up the vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok. Chop the top off the chilli and let the seeds tumble out and discard the seeds, then chop the chilli into 1cm-long sections. Just before the oil starts smoking, add the dried chillies, tipping the pan to let the chillies float in the pooled-up oil and fry for 30 seconds (at this point it will have only just begun turning very dark -- if the darkening happens sooner, you can stop cooking to prevent burning it).
- Pour the hot oil and chillies to the sauce mix.
- Toss to combine, then top with chopped cilantro (I like to put several whole leaves on) and the toasted sesame seeds.