Radishes, as you may recall if you read my blog last June, are one of my very favourite salad veg. It is a relation of the turnip, and not surprisingly given its mild pepperiness – horseradish. It has been used since prehistoric times over a huge swathe of the Old World from Western Europe to China and Japan. There was a rumour reported by the Greek writer, Herodotus, that the slaves who built the pyramids ate them whilst they worked. He actually mentions an inscription on the Great Pyramid itself to that effect – sadly it has long since been worn away. Like the thought though of them having pocketfuls – did they have pockets? – of radishes whilst they shovelled sand and shifted rocks. Pliny in the 1st century mentions radishes up to 3kg in size (clearly not cut out for salads!) in his writing and there are records of European herbalists referring to – wait for it – 45 kg radishes! Radishes appeared on these shores in the mid 16th century not long before the Spaniards introduced the humble radish to the U.S., where Florida is now the centre of the radish universe over there. In 1633, there is reference to radishes being eaten in sauces to ‘procure appetite‘ and also eaten ‘raw with bread‘. This is such a good way to eat them still! The small young spring radish, with its slightly hot taste – due to a glucoside substance within, similar to that in the related mustard plant – is wonderful when held by the green stalk, rubbed in a little butter then dipped in a little salt and eaten with a slice of good buttered bread.
And of course Spring is also a happy time to indulge in scallops. These chaps are unusual in the mollusc world as they do not crawl or burrow – instead they have a highly developed adductor muscle which allows them to propel themselves along by opening and closing their shells. Indeed the Japanese name for them means ‘full-sail fish.’ Interesting eh? And of course , they are very tasty!
I wanted to bring you a recipe that includes all the ingredients hinted at in Bonnie Lalley’s new painting and what could be better than
Seared Scallops with Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes!
I came across this dish a few years ago in an American cookbook I borrowed from a friend. I wrote it down and had forgotten all about it until I set eyes on this Lalley masterpiece!
It is simple and tasty and jam packed full of Spring.
For the salad:
3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1 tspn Dijon mustard
1 small bunch rocket or watercress
1 good handful of small pea shoots
2 very small fresh beetroots, peeled and sliced very thinly
For the peas, radishes and scallops:
8oz sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 bunch radishes, trimmed
1 tbs water
80 gm scallops per person approx
Zest and juice of 1/2 orange
Sea salt and black pepper
Ok – first make the salad: In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the rocket, pea shoots and beetroots slices but do not toss to coat. Patience! Set aside.
Prepare the peas and radishes: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add peas, and blanch for 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove from the pan and set aside. Blanch radishes for 2 minutes, and add to the sugar snap peas. Melt a good knob of butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon water, the peas, and radishes. Cook until water evaporates and butter coats vegetables, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Next cook the scallops. Heat a large nonstick skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. Season scallops with a little salt. Sear the scallops until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate to keep warm and grind over some black pepper. To the hot pan, add another knob of butter and the orange zest and juice. Cook until butter is melted and flavours are combined, about 1 minute. Pour sauce over scallops.
Now toss the salad – you waited patiently hopefully! Arrange scallops, salad, and sautéed veg on plates and serve to warm applause!
Full sail for a trio of delights – radishes, peas and scallops!