I was telling a new friend the other night that even after 15 years in California, I'm still thrilled and amazed that food grows so easily on trees in people's backyards.
California produce amazes me in general, actually. An hour at my local farmers' market is a religious experience. The colors, the shapes, the anticipation of something wonderful and healthy on my dinner plate - I'm brought to my knees.
The watermelon radish is one of those vegetables I'd never seen before moving to southern California. It's light green on the outside, magenta inside, with the crisp bitter heat of its radish brethren. I've seen watermelon radishes smaller than golf balls and bigger than tennis balls. Just depends on how patient the grower is.
I've served watermelon radishes raw, sliced in thin disks or small batons for snacking. I've tossed grated watermelon radishes with lemon juice and olive oil for watermelon radish salad. I've even sauteed them in butter, which tames the heat and makes for a nice side dish.
I don't deep-fry often, but when I do it's to make small batches of chips. Watermelon radishes fry up crisp and gorgeous. As you can see, magenta is a hard color to kill, even with boiling oil.
Watermelon radish chips
Thin slices of crisp radish deep-fried, then sprinkled with sea salt: There's no better snack. Look for exotic watermelon radishes at your local farmers' market or specialty grocer (you might have to ask).
- 4-6 cups grapeseed or canola oil, for deep frying
- 1 pound watermelon radishes, scrubbed well (do not peel)
- sea salt
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil to 325 degrees (a deep-fry thermometer clipped to the side of the pan is a helpful tool). You want the oil to be a few inches deep, with plenty of room for things to bubble up without spilling over as you drop in the chips.While the oil is heating, slice the watermelon radishes thinly. If your knife skills are good enough to do this by hand, congratulations. Mine are not, so I use a hand-held mandoline. Line a plate with several layers of paper towel.Test the temperature of the oil by adding one slice of radish to the pot. It should bubble aggressively and be golden brown in less than a minute. If this is the case, remove the test chip and flip it onto the paper towel to drain. Add a handful of chips, making sure to separate them as they go into the pot so they don't stick together. Turn them over as the edges brown, then take them out and drain them on the paper towel.Continue in a similar fashion until all the chips are used up. Sprinkle them with a tiny bit of salt every few batches, but be careful not to overdo it. You want to salt them when they're hot.Serve immediately.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 servings