It always curious to me, when I see “French breakfast radishes” in the states. I know that’s the name for them, according to seed packets and so forth. Or perhaps it’s just in my particular circles. But I’ve never seen anyone offer – or even eat – French ‘breakfast’ radishes for breakfast in France.
Still, the French do eat a lot of radishes. (In fact, they were one of the first things I wrote about on the site after I arrived in Paris.) And with good reason: their radishes are excellent. And because radishes are so popular, they’re often sold in bunches of two at a slightly more attractive price than if you were to buy just one. Radishes in France are often two-toned numbers, glowing red at the stem end, and ruddy white by the thread-like roots.
French people also eat black radishes, which are soot-black, but when sliced opened, resemble daikon radishes with a crunchier taste. I recently found these long red radishes at the market and picked up a bunch, but when I got them home, I found them a little bland and slightly woody. (Which might explain why you usually only see the ‘French Breakfast’ kinds here.) So I thought they might be good candidates for pickling.
Because the peels were a little ruddy, I gave them a quick skinning, which revealed a lovely neon-pink hue just under the skin. They take just a few minutes to make, and after just one day in the refrigerator, I was eating freshly made pickles.
Pickled radishes are unlikely to replace cornichons as the most popular pickle in France with a sandwich. But they’re great alongside a fatty hunk of French pâté, or slivered and strewn over a steaming bowl of Korean Bibimbap for lunch or dinner. But probably not for breakfast.
One pint jar
Interestingly, I did an online search to find out what kind of radishes these were – as I was certain inquiring minds might want to know – and the best term I came up with was “long red radishes.” It seems like there are quite a few varieties of long red radishes. I wouldn’t get my knickers in a knot over what type of radish to use – round, daikon, or another long radish would work.
If you use regular round radishes, there’s no need to peel them. Although be sure to wash them well, since they can be sandy. I didn’t add herbs to this batch, but you can pack in a bay leaf, some tarragon, or a few sprigs of fresh dill in the jar before closing it up.
- 1 bunch or 4 long radishes (about 1-pound, 400 g of radishes)
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar or honey
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- optional: 1 chile pepper, split lengthwise
1. If using long radishes, peel them. Trim off the leaves and roots and slice thickly (as shown.)
2. In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar or honey to a boil, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and add the peppercorns, garlic and chile, if using.
3. Pack the radishes in a clean pint-sized jar, and pour the hot liquid over them, adding the garlic and chile into the jar as well.
4. Cover and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.
Storage: The radishes will be ready to eat after 24 hours. During storage, the liquid will turn a nice rosy color and flavors -such as garlic and hot peppers – will get stronger. The radishes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to one month.
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