Watermelon Radishes are a species similar to daikon radish with one feature that makes them unique and distinguishes them other radishes out there. The Watermelon radish’s flesh is white closest to the exterior becoming bright circular striations of pink and magenta, hence the name.
These radishes are mostly a part of Asian cuisine but they are also used by chefs and high end restaurants, primarily for their looks and the color that they bring to the dish.
Watermelon Radish Trivia
- Daikon means big root in Japanese
- Daikon and therefore watermelon radish as well is used in preparing metal surfaces for chemical patination, for example under the Rokushō process.
- Growing in the same tile as a potato, increase the yield of potatoes.
Watermelon Radish Buying Guide
The same rules apply to buying this radish as they do with any other since the only difference becomes noticeable only when you cut it open. It should be equally sized meaning that there are no lumps and outgrowths in it. It should also have a clean and smooth surface. It should have a white skin and if it doesn’t it means it has started to grow too old for use.
The radish should feel heavy in hand relative to its size. There should be as little green parts near the head of the plant because that is a sign that it was exposed to the sun for too long.
Watermelon Radish Production & Farming in Texas
Watermelon radishes are produced in Texas mostly within the Asian communities and for the purpose of high end restaurants and farmers market where they are seen as novelty vegetable used to live up salads and other simple and traditional dishes with its colors.
The process of production is the same as it is for daikon. The properties of watermelon radishe are similar to all other radishes and that’s how it’s planted, cared about, and harvested in Texas. They require very little room and they should be grown in shade. They also need a well-drained soil, otherwise the roots won’t be straight.
Watermelon radish is planted in early spring as soon as the soil is ready for it. The seeds should be ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart in the row. The plant should be visible above ground in 4 to 6 days. Planting is done steadily about 8 days apart in order to get a steady supply of daikon.
If they are left in the ground for too long, they will become too firm and less useable. The goal is therefore to harvest them right on time in order to get as much radish as you can but to keep it tender and according to taste for most shops.
There are a few pesticides used on radishes because insects are prone to attacking it. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include sulfur and Bt-based insecticides. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties that help in controlling many diseases.
Watarmelon radishes have originated in China where they are known as shinrimei. They are used throughout Asia and there they are mostly cooked as any other radish, meaning that they are pickled and used for salads.
In the US they are mostly grown in the south where there’s a large Asian community but now they are becoming more popular throughout the country due to their looks. The strange color of the plant makes it perfect for salads and clever meal presentation.
Watermelon radish is mostly packed in wooden or cardboard containers and displayed as it is in the stores. Some might decide to wrap it in plastic as well to protect its moisture, but many just leave it as is and sell it in paper bags. The thick skin of the root is the protection on its own. It’s perfectly fine to just pick up one and carry it home from the store, but have in mind that the root can be as big as your arm.
Enjoying Watermelon Radishes
These radishes can be eaten in many different ways most common of which are salads, where they are eaten raw and added to other vegetables and ingredients. They can also be pickled which is common in Asian cuisine and they can be cooked.
Other than that, they can be used like any other radish, meaning that they can be mashed or roasted similar to turnips. The preparation is easy and it requires nothing more than peeling them off.
Watermelon radishes can last up to 2 weeks when it’s stored in a fridge. That can be done as simply as by storing the daikon in the plastic bag and keeping it in the cold part of the fridge. Make sure that you don’t wash it first and to wrap it in a paper towel.
The most common dish to make with this type of radish is a salad. Even a simple one will come to life due to how colorful and festive the watermelon radish looks.
Mince shallot. Place in small bowl. Cover with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the vinegar depending on how big of a salad you are making. Add a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Cut off one end of the radish. Leave the other intact so you have a handle when you run the radish down your mandoline. Peel the radishes if you wish, though it is by no means necessary. Thinly slice on a mandoline. Arrange radish slices on a platter. I try to fold some of them so they’re not all squished down in one flat layer, but arrange however you wish. Season all over with salt.
Cut off each end of each orange. Squeeze each end over the radishes, then discard. Use a sharp knife to remove the skin from the orange. Cut in between membranes to remove each slice. Squeeze remaining membrane all over the radishes to extract any juice. Scatter oranges over the radishes.
Scatter walnuts and goat cheese to taste over the radishes and oranges. Pour macerated shallots and vinegar over top. Drizzle olive oil to taste (one to two tablespoons) over top. Scatter chives over top if using.
Let sit a few minutes (or longer — it benefits from a brief rest) before serving.
Watermelon radish is a very-low-calorie vegetable yet has an impressive nutrient profile.
One 7-inch (18-cm) watermelon radish weighing 12 ounces (338 grams) packs the following nutrients: Calories: 61 Carbs: 14 grams Protein: 2 grams Fiber: 5 grams Vitamin C: 124% of the Daily Value (DV) Folate (B9): 24% of the DV Calcium: 9% of the DV Magnesium: 14% of the DV Potassium: 22% of the DV Copper: 19% of the DV watermelon radish is an excellent source of various nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Still, it’s highest in vitamin C and folate.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that’s essential to health and needed for many bodily functions, including immune system function and tissue growth and repair. Plus, it doubles as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your body’s cells from oxidative damage
watermelon radish is also rich in folate, a B vitamin that’s involved in cellular growth, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis). Foods rich in folate are particularly important during pregnancy, as this nutrient plays an integral role in the growth and development of the baby.