Radishes widely range in size, averaging 15 to 60 centimeters in length, and shape, typically having an elongated, cylindrical appearance. but also found in round-to-oblong forms, depending on the variety. The skin is firm, semi-smooth, and varies from pure white to purple, green and white, to solid red. The root generally feels heavy for its size, a sign that the flesh is plump and not dried out, and is also crisp, aqueous, and dense, containing white, purple, or red hues. Radishes are known for their crunchy, snap-like texture when raw and contain a mild, semi-sweet, and peppery, tangy flavor. Once cooked, the flesh softens to a consistency similar to a potato and develops a neutral flavor. In addition to the roots, Radish leaves are also edible and have a pungent, green, and grassy taste.
Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C to strengthen the immune system, reduce inflammation, and boost collagen production within the skin. The roots are also a good source of potassium to balance fluid levels and contain lower amounts of phosphorus, copper, calcium, magnesium, and folate. In traditional Asian medicines, radishes are believed to provide enzymes that assist in the synthesis of starches and fats. The roots are steeped into teas and boiled with seaweed to fight infections, detox the body, and eliminate the harmful buildup within the digestive tract.
Radishes have a mildly sweet and peppery flavor well suited for raw, cooked, and pickled preparations. The radish can be eaten with or without the skin, and when raw, the flesh can be thinly sliced, chopped, or cubed as a crisp side dish. In Japan, radishes are often served as a refreshing accompaniment to tempura and other deep-fried dishes as a reprieve from heavier flavors. Fresh slices are also served at the end of meals as a way to improve digestion. In addition to plain servings, radish can be mixed into salads and coleslaw, spiralized as a noodle substitute, thinly sliced for sandwiches, layered into spring rolls, or julienned and pickled with other vegetables. Radishes are popularly pickled and fermented into kimchi in Korea, a staple dish utilized as a condiment, side dish, or dip, and pickled radishes are also used as a topping in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. Radishes can also be cooked to develop a starchy texture similar to a potato. The flesh can be sliced into stir-fries, steamed as a neutral dish, roasted into chips, simmered in soups, curries, and stews, or braised as a savory vegetable. Radishes are also frequently cooked into small square cakes as a textural component of main dishes. Beyond the roots, radish leaves are edible and can be tossed into salads, sauteed as a side, or simmered into soups. Radishes pair well with herbs such as coriander, mint, dill, and thyme, carrots, mushrooms, peanuts, and meats, including beef, pork, duck, poultry, and fish. Whole, uncut radishes will keep for 1 to 2 weeks when wrapped in newspaper or plastic and stored in the refrigerator. Once cooked, the radish pieces will keep for 3 to 7 days, and the leaves will keep up to 3 days in the fridge. Radishes can also be blanched and frozen for extended use for up to one month.
Radishes are available year-round, with a peak season in the fall through winter.