Monday, November 1, 2010

Watermelon Radishes: There Ought to be a Slaw!

My sister Robin, brother-in-law Dave, and I were getting ready for our friend Rafael's Halloween birthday party at the home of mutual pals in Harvard, MA. As usual,  Dave had been cooking up a storm. Grilled flank steak that would become mini steak and blue cheese sandwiches. Dave's version of the incomparable Momofuku pork belly buns. 

However, one dish was still a work in progress as we headed to the penultimate Seacoast Growers' Market. The main ingredient was goose from the guys at Yellow House Farm. Dave had used Ming Tsai's Red Roast Duck recipe from the Blue Ginger cookbook to prepare the goose. It tasted delicious. The question now was how to serve it. Dave's original thought was the shred it and fold it into a lettuce leaf, but he wanted some kind of garnish to go with it.

Until we stopped by to see Garen Heller at the Riverside Farm stand, we'd been talking about shredding some carrots and scallions and making a little sauce. Then we discovered watermelon radishes and Garen's recipe for Asian Watermelon Slaw. Immediately, our imaginations' taste buds kicked into gear. We knew the rice wine and soy sauce would be a delicious foil for the rich, slightly sweet goose, while the rosy pink color would perfectly accentuate the meat and lettuce.

We adapted Garen's original recipe somewhat to suit our purposes as a condiment, rather than a slaw. We chose to add more sesame oil, soy sauce, and vinegar, instead of the yogurt, because we wanted a consistency that was more vinaigrette-like than creamy. As there would be a ginger-scallion dipping sauce, we left the ginger out of the slaw itself and reduced the amount of honey. Finally, we added an additional dash of fish sauce to give it an extra umami kick.

The resulting "Goose in Lettuce Leaves with Asian Slaw" was a real hit at the party -- but I think the original recipe would make a delicious side for any meat or seafood dish with an Asian bent -- or an excellent accompaniment to your favorite Asian noodle dish. It's also a easy way to use a vegetable that's colorful, tasty, and good for you.

Garen's Watermelon Radish Slaw
Serves Two

For the slaw:
3 medium watermelon radishes
1 carrot
1T fresh ginger root (or more to taste)
1 medium red onion (1/4 cup grated)

For the dressing:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons yogurt or mayonnaise (or more if desired)
Splash of Thai fish sauce (optional)

1. Grate all the slaw ingredients
2. Blend the dressing ingredients together
3. Toss slaw and dressing together and serve on a bed of greens