Pickled (Watermelon) Radishes

Otis and I rode our bikes down to Monterey Market to pick up supplies for dinner. We crossed everything off our list and couldn't resist adding a few alluring non-essentials: Watermelon Radishes with a hot pink center and a prehistoric looking Horned Melon.

Never wanting to deny my kids' desire to try something new, we sampled the bizarre Horned Melon right away - the thorny orange skin masked a strange cucumber flavor (its biological cousin) with a gelatinous texture that is difficult to eat because of the huge pumpkin-style seeds throughout. It was clear why this fruit is not one of the most popular around.

On the other hand, the Watermelon Radish was a hit and inspired us to use it a number of ways. One or two of the apple-sized radishes go a long way, and of course I bought five in a impulse buying frenzy. We sliced one when we got home just to admire its beauty and sample the flavor which starts out mild and ends with a spicy kick. Another radish complimented a carnitas supper, and still we ended up with radishes to spare.

P, in his fearless enthusiasm to jar every food we have in abundance, made these incredible pickles. The sweetness of the rice wine vinegar mellows out the radishes, and how beautiful is that color? The Pickled Watermelon Radishes make me want to make a Japanese feast and serve these beauties to nibble on.

This recipe is from Elizabeth Andoh's: Washoku, Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen.

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt for sauce, plus 1 more teaspoon for the radishes
  • 1 piece kombu
  • 3 large Watermelon Radishes (Diakon would work as well)

In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients except radish. Let sit overnight.

Place pan over low heat and dissolve sugar and salt; then slowly bring sauce to just below a boil. Set aside and let sweet and sour sauce cool.

Thinly slice radishes with a mandolin. Combine radish slices and 1 teaspoon of salt in a ceramic or glass jar. Let them sit for 5 minutes undisturbed.

Gently toss radishes with your hands and use your fingertips to squeeze and press the radishes to help them wilt. Pour off extra liquid and rinse radishes quickly under cold water to remove excess salt. Squeeze again.

Put radish slices in an attractive lidded glass jar (I am a huge fan of Weck jars myself) and cover with sauce, making sure radishes are submerged. Let tightly lidded jar sit out for a day or so; the radishes will bleed and the liquid will take on the brilliant rose color of the radish. Then put pickled radishes in the fridge and eat within a week.

I think these would make a gorgeous and unusual gift for a foodie friend who invites you over for supper, or just make them for yourself.


  1. I made a jar of pickled radishes this past summer. They were divine and a delicious crunch on a sandwich.

  2. Thanks Kate. I haven't tried one on a sandwich. That sounds delish. Maybe lunch today?


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