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  The Radish

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These little red, ruby globes remind me of warm summer days and games of chance – the chance that the next little radish you popped whole into your mouth might be the hot peppery one that’d bring you to tears and tingle on your tongue.   My grandmother always planted a large garden each year and nothing is better than a fresh, homegrown radish – but when you have to fix a mid-winter craving, the radish hits its high season around February each year and you’ll find them sparkling like jewels in the produce aisle.

A part of the mustard family, radishes are, and have been since pre-historic times, enjoyed the world over. While we’re most familiar with the red, small globular variety, there are also a wide variety of colors from white to red to black and sizes – such as the large Japanese Daikon radish that can be up to two feet in length and sports a white flesh.

While the French enjoy radishes ice cold with small bowls of soft, creamy butter, salt and pepper for dipping and popping, a lot of us folks grew up enjoying a good old-fashioned radish sandwich of soft white bread, a little butter and sliced radish goodness - One-part dainty tea sandwich and one-part utilitarian snack. 

The radish greens can also be enjoyed and both the greens and the radish root are extremely low in calories but high in vitamins.  The greens are a great addition to salads and can be cooked along with the roots for a variety of delightful dishes.

It may seem a bit odd to cook radishes but the process softens their bite, concentrates their flavor and the result is a caramelized slightly crispy and savory addition to any meal.

Pan-Seared Sea Bass with Pan-Roasted Radish
An elegant meal for two, the velvety and meaty texture of the sea bass is the perfect marriage to pan-roasted radishes finished in a sauce of butter and vermouth.

1 dozen red radishes (a small bunch)
2 sea bass filets, about one third-pound each
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ to ½ cup dry vermouth

Prep radishes by trimming away most of the tops leaving a bit of stem, then slice lengthwise into halves or quarters for roughly all the same-sized pieces.

Heat one tablespoon of butter and the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the sea bass and sear on one side until nice and brown then remove from the pan with the seared side up.  Add the radishes and cook until brown and crispy.

Add the vermouth to create a sauce, and then add the sea bass back (seared side up) cover and let steam for 6-8 minutes (checking to make sure vermouth has not completely evaporated away and adding more if necessary). 

Uncover, remove from heat and add the last tablespoon of butter to finish the sauce. 

Plate and enjoy.

Copyright 2008.