This is the Chinese version of our radish “roses,” a delicate fan of crisp radish that unfolds in a zestily flavored sauce rather than in ice water. Beautiful looking and delicious, they are excellent as an edible garnish, a wine-chaser hors d’oeuvre, or a crunchy, colorful addition to any meal.
Trim the root and stem ends of each radish neatly, so that any green is cut away and the two ends are stark white. (If the radishes aren’t perfectly fresh and hard, plump them for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator in a bowl of cold water.)
To cut the radishes into fans, hold the radish clamped between a pair of chopsticks as described above in TECHNIQUE NOTES. With a sharp, thin-bladed knife make a series of cuts 1/16 inch apart across the width of the radish, cutting down to the chopsticks, sticks, until the top is cut like a fan. (If your fingers get in the way when you near the end, turn the radish around and complete the cuts.)
Toss the radishes in a glass or stainless bowl with the salt and sugar, then put aside for 45 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally.
Whisk the seasonings until blended and slightly thick, tasting for desired sweetness. Put aside to develop for 10 minutes.
Drain the radishes, then squeeze several at a time between your palms to extract excess liquid. Press; do not wring. Put the radishes in a clean dry bowl, then scrape the seasonings on top and toss well to mix. For best flavor, marinate 5–6 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator, to give the seasonings time to penetrate and enlarge. Toss occasionally while marinating, or place the radishes fan side down in the liquid for even absorption.
Serve chilled. Press gently with your fingers to spread the fans, and present them on a plate or in a bowl of contrasting color, with a bit of the sauce drizzled on top.
The radishes keep 2–3 days, sealed and refrigerated, and grow a bit stronger if you store them in the sauce.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.