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Shin Re Mei
Watermelon Radish

This fabulously pastel root vegetable is bright red inside, green and white outside, just like a watermelon... if watermelons were also only a few inches in diameter, mildly spicy, and sported a tail.

Like daikon, this radish is related to the mustard family. It can grow as large as a grapefruit. According to Evergreen Seeds2, Shin Re Mei means "Beauty in the heart," an apt name for this stunning vegetable. They are sweeter than most radishes, and sport only a little of the traditional radishy "bite."

One newsletter for Mariquita Farm describes a Chinese dish in which the radish is julienned and served with a dressing made of soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, garlic and dark Chinese vinegar: "It looks like a big platter of slender, wet magenta gummy worms.... It's crunchy, garlicky and raw.... We catch up on the gossip for the week and order another platter of the glorious salad."1 "Chinese food," of course, like the food of most countries, is actually comprised of many wildly individual regional cuisines; the site does not categorize this recipe further, but does note that they ate it in Beijing.

Boxed Greens Organic Farm in Arizona also suggests slicing them and serving with your favorite dip, American-veggie-platter-style - although one of their Californian counterparts, Terra Firma Farms, cautions snackers not to eat the bitter green rind.4,5 The latter farm also suggests using this little radish, sliced, in a stir fry to get "a darned good imitation of water chestnuts - only prettier."6

The vegetable also does well paired with meat. For those non-vegetarians among us, the television program Chef du Jour offers a recipe for sliced raw tuna with wasabi-yuzu3:

Ingredients:

Combine all these and blend till smooth.

Place four plates in the refrigerator to chill. Toss the sliced radishes with the herbs, sprouts, yuzu juice and mirin. Let sit for a few minutes while you make the wasabi-yuzu. Divide among the chilled plates, and arrange four slices of tuna over each. Drizzle a little wasabi-yuzu (to taste, both to your eyes and your tastebuds) around each salad. Just before serving, sprinkle the tuna slices with a little bit of coarse sea salt, and enjoy. Serves four... or one hungry person who doesn't mind washing all those plates.


References:

  1. http://www.mariquita.com/articles/Radishes.HersHis.html
  2. http://www.evergreenseeds.com/evergreenseeds/orradshin.html
  3. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_2713,00.html
  4. http://www.boxedgreens.com/organicproduce/Heirloom_Watermelon_Radish.html
  5. http://www.terrafirmafarm.com/011100.html
  6. http://www.terrafirmafarm.com/011100.html

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