Pungent black radishes are beloved in cold-climate countries, where they last months in storage. According to Elizabeth Schneider, the author of Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables, not so long ago were the days you could hardly find a Russian tabletop without a snacky spread of zakuski (“little bites”). Alongside hearty black bread, pickled mushrooms, roasted beets, herring, sturgeon and, of course, vodka and caviar, you’d find black radishes grated into a chilly soured cream.
You might like grated black radishes used this way in Indian raita or Greek tzatziki, with yogurt taking the place of the sour cream and the radishes replacing the cucumbers. Slices of pungent black radish are also a fabulous stand-in for horseradish on a steak sandwich.
1 cup coarsely grated black radishes (The large holes on a standard cheese grater work well.)
1 cup Russian or Greek sour cream (It’s worth using the real thing if you can find it. If not, try another sour cream or crème fraîche.)
Quick squeeze of fresh lemon
2 tbsp chives, chopped
Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve with hearty country bread. If you want to go all the way with the Russian theme, serve alongside a selection of zakuski.
Photo by Tim Nauman Photography.