5 Ingredients or Fewer

Alex Raij's Radishes with Vanilla Butter & Salt, 2 Ways

July 17, 2018
4 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

“What’s important is the temperature of the butter,” Raij says. “It should be plastic and cold.” Raij was initially inspired by a snack at Roscioli delicatessen in Rome that combined salty Spanish anchovies with curls of cold vanilla butter. “I was so enchanted with it, I came home and put it on everything now,” Raij said. Her take on Roscioli’s dish, a deliberately plain cracker with a thin tube of vanilla butter and a very good-quality Spanish anchovy, has been on the menu at her NYC restaurant El Quinto Pino ever since, and she riffs on it often for parties, big and small. Adapted from Alex Raij and El Quinto Pino restaurant. To see the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Alex Raij's Radishes with Vanilla Butter & Salt, 2 Ways
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 whole vanilla bean (or 2 teaspoons vanilla paste, Raij’s preference)
  • 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar, or to taste (omit if using vanilla paste, which is slightly sweetened)
  • Flaky salt, like Maldon or fleur de sel
  • 1 to 2 bunches small radishes (with pretty fresh tops, if serving with tops in option 1)
  1. Scrape the butter into a medium bowl. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a paring knife, then use the back of the knife to scrape out the caviar (a.k.a. the seeds) from the vanilla bean. Scrape the beans onto the soft butter and add the sugar and a large pinch of salt. Stir well to combine.
  2. Serving option 1 (more casual): Cover the vanilla butter in a small serving bowl and chill until you’re ready to serve, then take out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving, so the butter is still cold but spreadable.
  3. Scrub the radishes and wash the leaves well. Chill well in the fridge or a bowl of ice water. Serve the radishes, tops and all, with the small bowl of vanilla butter and another small dish of flaky salt. Dip the radishes in butter and sprinkle with salt as you go (or lightly dip the buttered radish into the dish of salt).
  4. Serving option 2 (fancier): Form the vanilla butter into a log to chill: Lay out a piece of plastic wrap, scrape the butter onto it in a long, log-ish shape, then wrap tightly and roll until you have a round tube an inch or two in diameter. Chill until very firm, about an hour.
  5. Scrub your radishes and thinly slice them on a mandoline. Keep in a bowl of ice water if making ahead, then briefly drain on a clean kitchen towel before serving. When ready to serve, slice the butter into thin rounds and lay on crackers, then top with a few slices of radish and a sprinkle of flaky salt. Serve while still cold. Save any extra vanilla butter for toast or smearing on sandwiches tomorrow.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • nolu
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • Kristin
  • Joan Norton
    Joan Norton
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

17 Reviews

Kristin January 12, 2019
Hi, I did try adding vanilla extract to the melted cooled butter, but before I added it I went ahead and took it to the brown butter stage because I couldn’t resist. I wish I hadn’t. The brown butter, with the vanilla and sugar made it taste more like something you would want to bake with, or maybe put on toast in the morning, rather than swipe on radishes. My radishes were really mild, but maybe with some more assertive, spicy radishes it would work. After I put the butter back in the fridge to resolidify the vanilla did separate, but I just worked it back in with a fork and it hasn’t separated after a full week.
Kristen M. January 13, 2019
Thanks for reporting back—very helpful!
Kristin January 2, 2019
Also, just found your post about adding the extract to a simple syrup in order to blend. Still would like to know if you’ve ever tried adding a liquid to melted butter.
Kristen M. January 5, 2019
I haven't! That's a great idea. I would add it when the melted butter is a bit cooled to keep as much of the vanilla's delicate flavors intact as possible.
Kristin December 26, 2018
What about using vanilla extract? If so how much?
Kristen M. January 2, 2019
Hi Kristin, I haven't tried it myself, but in my experience, getting a liquid flavoring to mix into butter isn't easy. A good alternative is vanilla paste, which mixes in easily and is a chef and pastry chef favorite (and an inexpensive option compared to the vanilla bean, since you can keep the rest of the bottle to use in any baking recipe that calls for vanilla extract). If you can't find it near you, it's easy to order online.
Kristin January 2, 2019
Just a thought, have you ever tried adding liquid to melted butter and then refrigerating it to solidify? Might work? I am super intrigued.
Joan N. September 18, 2018
Use French radishes!!! Mild flavor,good crunch. Easily,quickly grown in small space. We often had radish and (good) butter sandwiches when I lived overseas. Addicted now!
Marcia August 6, 2018
Easy, delicious and memorable. Everyone loved it. (even me, who didn't used to like radishes) This is a keeper!
Tanya K. July 21, 2018
Only 4T does not yield a large amount. Is this correct?
Kristen M. July 22, 2018
Yes, it is—a little goes a long way. Though you can of course feel free to increase the recipe if you're making it for a bigger party.
Barb July 18, 2018
Radishes with good butter and flaky sea salt on baguette is a staple at Easter...top with radish greens for pretties and extra yum.
nolu July 18, 2018
Basically is this buttercream frosting?
Kristen M. July 22, 2018
It's similar to the simplest buttercream frosting, except frostings usually have a lot more (powdered) sugar. Erin McDowell has an excellent article that defines all the major kinds of buttercream, if you're curious: https://food52.com/blog/16142-all-about-buttercream-how-to-make-6-different-types
nolu July 23, 2018
Thanks, Kristen Miglore
Rajeev K. July 18, 2018
Did you mean to write "omit if using vanilla paste" for the sugar? I assume vanilla paste is already sweetened, as compared to vanilla beans!

BTW, love the photo with the sliced radish! Makes my mouth water!

Kristen M. July 18, 2018
Yes, great catch! Just fixed. Thanks and I agree, our photo team did an amazing job with these photos!