Considered good appetite stimulators, radishes actually have very little food value. But they do add tang, texture, color and crunch to meals. Mentioned by Chinese philosopher Confucius back in 479 BC, radishes probably originated in China but are so ancient that their original ancestor is not known. The ancient Greeks ate radishes as well as turnips and beets. They were said to make vegetable sacrifices to the gods, carrying radishes on gold platters. These days artists carve the long radishes of Oaxaca, Mexico into elaborate sculptures for La Noche de los Rabanos, the night of the radishes. The long white Japanese radish or daikon is often pickled and eaten after the rice portion of the meal. Pickled daikon is said to be the number one pickled vegetable in Japan.”
It’s been four years since we celebrated the Night of the Radishes, the 23rd of December in Mexico, well, more specifically, Oaxaca. This time I thought it was a good opportunity to take it a faint step further and make it a night of all-Mexican cooking, and, vegetarian. As usual on our nights devoted to the vegetable kingdom, most of the folk who came weren’t vegetarians… such is life.
A mashup of different regions – at the base, tortillas de quintoníl, a white corn tortilla with chopped amaranth leaves in it (spinach works as a fine substitute). Topped with lettuce, avocado, roasted peppers, goats’ milk feta, and radishes, and served with a very old, traditional squash seed and chili sauce called sikil p’ak – a blend of toasted whole and peeled squash seeds, rocoto pepper (traditionally habanero, but all I had was that in powder, so used fresh rocotos and just a pinch of the habanero to boost the spice), broiled tomatoes, cilantro and chives.
A reasonably classic pozole, simply without the usual pork bits, and because hominy is hard to come by here, I used the cracked white corn that we use for making locro.
We’ve seen this one before, and as usual won’t touch on the name, huevos en rabo de mestiza, and I’ll leave the description at the link….
An interesting and very obscure dish, tekantó, normally made with turkey, here with oyster mushrooms, basically marinated in a blend of roasted onion, almonds and vinegar, and then cooked in its marinade along with charred garlic and chilies. It picks up a very subtle heat, and really interesting flavors. Served over lettuce with a bit of fried plantain. Normally there’s also a piece of fried bread and some radishes, but the dinner already seemed a bit starch heavy, and we’d already had a dish garnished with the latter.
You might have noticed I’ve developed a recent fascination with vegetable based desserts, so the opportunity to serve up a budín de chicharos, or pea pudding, was too good to pass up. Basically a souffle type torte made with rice flour and pea puree, plus a bit of fresh grated cheese in it. Served up with a toasted walnut and fresh orange juice sauce. I might have actually been able to get away with not telling people it was based on peas, and gotten away with it – surprising, and delicious!