09 Jul2008

Rat’s Tail Radishes

by Marketman

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A few months ago I was shocked to find one of my absolute favorite vendors missing from the Salcedo Saturday Market. Gil Carandang of Herbana Farms is an organic farmer who, over the past 12 years, has brought dozens and dozens of heretofore scarce or rare herbs and spices to the middle of Makati. I first met him at the old Greenbelt Organic Market, behind United supermarket in 1995 or 1996. I used to buy some really unusual items at his stall and I noted with glee his progress over the years. Count me as one of his biggest fans, so when his stall went missing, I had a minor panic! But it turns out he was just moved towards the middle of the market, less visible, but with a bigger stall. Phew! Last Saturday, he had a few items he wanted me to try… and as you all know, I am a sucker for unusual produce items. But nothing prepared me for rat’s tail radishes (raphanus sativus)… an irregular shaped airy pod with a nice crunch and a distinct but relatively faint radish flavor. Wild! Unlike anything I have tried recently. And I munched on one, following Gil’s lead, but back home I spied a very lively worm in one of the pods, it was organic, after all! :)

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There is a great post on this unusual (for Manila) ingredient on an Indian food blog, here. The ingredient is also used in Thai cooking. Seeds are available on-line here. According to Gil, another client of his brought him the seeds so he could try raising them for the market. I think they would be interesting in a salad or in a stir-fry. If they were totally worm free, they would be a GREAT addition to a crudites platter with a variety of dips… At PHP60 for a generous container of the pods (yes, they are pods, not radishes from under ground), they were reasonably priced for a taste of the unusual… Thank you Gil and business partner RT Gonzalez, for continuing to experiment and bringing new and interesting items to the market!

Here are just some of the previous posts on finds at the Herbana Farm’s stall…

Saw-tooth coriander / Pak Chii Farang
Organic Farming Seminars / Vegetable Still Lifes
Wild Arugula
Tapilan / Rice Beans
Kale
Various Herbs and Edible Flowers
Oyster Mushrooms
A Selection of Fresh Herbs
More Edible Flowers
Herbana Farms

 

COMMENTS:

  1. AleXena says:

    It looks like a cross between a matured sting beans and siling labuyo!=) hihihihi!=)

    How do you cook and eat it?

    Jul 9, 2008 | 2:20 pm

     
  2. joey says:

    I am a big fan of Herbana Farms too (got the tip from you way back when!)! :) I make it a point to pass by their stall every time I’m in the Salcedo Market. I also experienced that moment of panic the first time I went after they had moved…I almost grabbed the Wagyu guy to shout, “Where’s Gil?????” Hahaha! Good thing I spotted them before I totally lost it…

    Jul 9, 2008 | 2:44 pm

     
  3. betty q. says:

    I would love to meet Mr. Carandang, MM! Boy, we can talk about weird produce for hours…Every year, I make it a point to plant what the other gardeners in our community garden calls WEIRD!…square watermelons, papaya zucchinis, every imsginable color of cherry tomatoes(8 different colors), etc….soooo much fun experimenting…last year was orange and yellow (marbled inside) flesh watermelon.

    Alexena….it makes a very tasty and wonderful pickle….sweet or the dill kind. Do you make dill pickles? If you want, I’ll share my KILLER DILL PICKLE recipe. I gave a jar to one of my brother-in-law’s friends. He bugged for days to show him how to make it..so I told him ..”only if he goes cucumber picking with me”…Ha! how many guys do you know would go picking cucumbers?!? He really did! Anyway, if you want to make it…sweet pickle or dill pickle, let me know…

    Jul 9, 2008 | 3:43 pm

     
  4. kurzhaar says:

    What you describe is simply the seed pod of the common radish plant, which, by the way, is entirely edible–roots, leaves, flowers, and seed pods. I have eaten the leaves (picked when tender, they can be stir fried or sauteed), had the flowers once in a restaurant, but it was an Indian friend who introduced me to the seed pods. I grew Black Spanish radishes and watermelon radishes a couple of summers ago, and when the crop went to seed, he told me to not just yank out the old plants but to save the pods for eating. Now, that was a discovery!

    Marketman, do you grow vegetables/herbs/flowers? I’d highly recommend that, I think you’d enjoy it–there is nothing like growing your own produce, picking things when they are exactly as you want them, and discovering new tastes! For example, I adore tomatoes, and one of the worst things about moving away from CA (where meeting up with friends at the farmers’ market was a Sunday ritual for me year-round) was the discovery of how terrible the produce is in so many parts of the US. I literally refuse to buy the sad red objects labelled “tomatoes” in the local supermarkets. So part of the year, I go without tomatoes except for what I have put up as sauce, etc. But in season, I feast! I’ve grown on average about 25 heirloom varieties each year, and every season I try new varieties (adding to my favorites which become standards for me). Check out this French website for descriptions of hundreds of tomato varieties:

    ventmarin.free.fr/index.htm
    (click on “Passion tomate”)

    Good sources of heirloom seeds include http://www.kitazawaseed.com and http://www.gourmetseed.com. And of course–if you are travelling abroad, see what you can find in local gardening shops!

    I think one of the things that you learn when growing your own food is that one must know how to eat in season. Most people are spoiled and expect things year-round (strawberries in December, kale–sweetest after a frost and thus best as a winter crop–in June). Well, yes, you might be able to buy these things out of their normal season, but they’ll not be as tasty as locally grown produce in season. Even in southern CA there are seasonal swings, and I’m sure that’s true for the tropics as well.

    Jul 10, 2008 | 5:22 am

     
  5. Marketman says:

    kurzhaar, actually, this is not the pod of the “common radish plant.” While all radishes and veggies in the same family do go to seed and have pods, not all are edible or palatable. These rat’s tail radishes are grown from seed specifically for the pods, and there is a good article here from the Washington Post that describes how best to enjoy them. So while many radish plants pods can be eaten, there is a specific reason why these rat’s tail radishes are sought after by those to whom it matters, I suppose.

    I don’t have much room to grow veggies in our city home, though we do have several herbs/aromatics. And if you troll back into the archives, you will find that I have a black thumb of sorts. I have always wanted to have a spectacular vegetable garden, but have not been successful. I go to the local markets instead and try to buy seasonally based on what the vendors have on offer. At the moment, we have at least seeds of heirloom tomatoes (sent by a sibling in the U.S.) and not one of them has thrived in Manila/our garden. Otherwise, we eat closer to season than most places as relatively many folks still frequent wet markets for vegetables and fruit. And in the tropics, most fruit is highly seasonal.

    Alexena, follow links in the post and to the Washington post for preparation ideas…

    Jul 10, 2008 | 5:53 am

     
  6. MarketFan says:

    these remind me of camachile

    Jul 10, 2008 | 5:07 pm

     
  7. kurzhaar says:

    Sorry, I meant that in biological terms–the species name “sativa” is generally used to mean “common” although the original Latin means “that which is sown”.

    The pods of the black radishes I grew were certainly larger than those of the watermelon radishes, and spicier in taste. I picked them before they turned fibrous, as advised by my Indian friend.

    I was surprised that you have trouble growing tomatoes…they originated after all in warm climates and I had imagined they would be happy in the tropics (all that sunshine!). Perhaps the heirloom varieties you had were more suited to cooler climates?

    Jul 11, 2008 | 8:33 am

     
  8. rex says:

    Hello marketman.

    The link to the website of Herbana Farms was misspelled.

    It should be http://www.herbanafarm.com without the “s”.

    The current link directs you to an advertising/search portal.

    Jul 11, 2008 | 11:57 am

     
  9. Raph says:

    Hello Marketman! I am an avid reader of your site and I’m surprised to see this vegeteble featured here! It is quite very common in Ilocos where we call it ‘rabanos.’ It is seasonal though and is only available during the months of January and February. Rabanos is a common addition to vegetable dishes like pinakbet or dinengdeng.

    Jul 14, 2008 | 2:31 pm

     
 

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