I don’t know why, but last week I was overcome with a sudden and intense craving for black radish.
No, I am not pregnant.
This is just a thing that happens often when you’re the kind of person who spends a lot of time thinking about what they might like to put in their mouth next and, if that person is me last week, that thing was black radishes.
I put a call out on the face place to find out where a girl might procure such a creature as they’re really not just hangin’ out at the local Freshco. In fact, I don’t think I had ever purchased a black radish in my entire life until last week as I’ve so often had lovely, and typically elderly, gardeners in my life who grew them and were so excited to bestow their bounty upon me just because I knew what they were and would eat them.
I don’t tell them that I eat just about everything.
I mention elderly with intent because it seems this wonderful root has been largely relegated to annals of history and nutritional supplements, which is a crying shame because I’m told they’re quite easy to grow (and in abundance), damned delicious and you can do just about anything to them, food-wise. You can roast them. You can boil them. You can fry them. You can eat them raw.
I, however, had my sights set on making a nice velouté, which sounds kinda fancy, but is really more akin to a cabbage soup…but, like, actually full of tastiness. Nevermind that one can’t seem to find it outside the fancy restaurant circuit.
I set out Saturday morning with my trusty marketmate, Bryan (I seriously love shopping with this guy – we did an entire tour of the market AND groceries in under an hour) and found me some black radishes.
Don’t worry, the parsnips did not go into the soup, but you guys, black radishes and shallots go together like peas and carrots. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing with them, be it salad or soup or whatever, if your black radish dish calls for an allium component, make it shallots.
Black radishes + shallots 4eva.
So’s you know.
I came away with four goodly sized radishes – two for the soup and two for play (I have a mind to make black radish spiral fries in the near future) and it was $7 for the bunch, which seems reasonable to me as they’re organic will keep for a while and, when it comes to black radishes, just a dab will do you.
They are FULL of flavour. Think turnips in terms of intensity – very different flavour, equally intense, but with that creamy white flesh that make them perfect for a velouté.
I decided going into this that I was going to make the dish entirely vegan, mostly because there aren’t nearly enough fancy vegan dishes in the world, but also because I like to take the piss out of classical French cuisine and its over-abundance of creamy and buttery bits.
I was a bit dubious about how it would come out, but I can honestly say that the nutty sweetness of the almond milk is an improvement and I am highly unlikely to use cream for it ever again. Should you like to make a more classic velouté, swap out the oil for butter and the almond milk for cream or evaporated milk and, voilà! You’re all Frenchifried.
What you need:
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 3 shallots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 black radishes, peeled and diced
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 bay leaves
- Water enough to cover the veg
- 1 L almond milk
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds, lightly bruised
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
What you do:
- In a large pot over medium heat, sautée the shallots in oil with a little salt until translucent.
- Add the garlic, nutmeg and celery, and continue to sautée.
- Once the shallots are starting to brown, add the radishes, potatoes, bay leaves and enough water to cover to cover the contents of the pot.
- Taste test and season accordingly. I find this soup requires a lot more salt than I might normally add to a dish and try to get it servably seasoned at this point so that the salt is not in your face. That is to say, at this point, salt it to the point you’d like to eat it at. Lots of ground black pepper is always a good idea.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and let boil for about 30 minutes, until the radishes are fork tender, stirring occasionally and adding water as necessary to prevent the contents from burning.
- While the veg is cooking, add the olive oil, caraway and parsley to a small pot and temper over low heat.
- Once the veg are tender, kill the heat, remove the bay leave and add two cups of the almond milk.
- Let it cool enough that it’s safe to combine with either an immersion blender or food processor.
- Combine the lot until smooth, return it to the pot (if necessary) and add the remaining almond milk and syrup.
- Whisk everything together to combine and bring up to edible temperature (hot, but not boiling) over medium-low.
- Serve hot with a drizzle of the tempered oil – leaves, seeds and all – and some baguette croutons.