Sunday, March 29, 2009

CSA week 16 - Radish pancake, first attempt

Prompted by Karen's comment on this week's start-up post, I thought I'd try making a half potato, half radish variation on a rosti-style potato pancake. Rostis (or roestis) are disks of shredded potato held together by their own starch. I should have done my research as my previous attempts at rostis have had mixed results.

Most recipes call for pre-cooking the potato, which I did, but only partially cooked is best and I cooked mine all the way through. Another recommended step is wringing some water out of the semi-cooked potato. That I didn't do.

So my rosti turned out crumbly. That's a risk even if you do everything right. With half of the potato substituted out for not-nearly-so-starchy radishes. I ended up binding it together with grated cheese which, while fine with the red radishes I used, would likely not work so well with daikon. Texturally, though, I don't think the change would make a big difference.

The dish did crisp up nicely on the outside, but some overcooked bits of potato turned to mush and some undercooked bits of radish were a little rubbery. Probably best to pre-cook the radish a little and pre-cook the potato less. A couple minutes in the microwave for both ought to do the trick. Best to poke some holes in them first to avoid any risk of explosion. That should loosen up the moisture in the radish to let it be wrung out, too, so worth the effort.

I also think adding just a little corn starch to the mix to help with the binding would be a fine idea.

With those changes, the dish should be workable. The flavors were fine, although the potato dominated over the mild radish. Daikon should be more assertive, but not so good with European flavors. Plenty of other options, just leave out the cheese.

And, speaking of not entirely successful experiments, stir fried daikon in sweet and sour sauce isn't actually bad, but it's not particularly good either.


Russell Hews Everett said...

I made a daikon cake this week too, though mine was quite different. Steamed mine with rice flour into a glutinous cake, then fried that till crispy. The post should be up on the blog.

billjac said...

That's the same recipe I made a couple weeks ago. It's a good choice I think. Dicing everything really small and then pan frying it all to get the flavors intense and toasty makes a big difference.

I've still got plenty of it in the freezer so I'm trying something a bit different with the daikon this time around.

kat said...

Interesting use of radish, I know come spring I'll be looking for ways to use mine.

Russell H. Everett said...

Ahhh yep, I spaced on that. I'm thinking of taking the other half of the cake, brushing it with a little oil and throwing it on the grill for a bit. Easier than flipping so many little pieces. Tasty though. My second favorite thing I've done with daikon this season. (1st is still bahn mi pickles, man that's a good sandwich.)

billjac said...

Well, kat, you've got to do something with the dang things. I've found that they're rather more versatile than their reputation suggests.

And Russell, I agree, turnip cakes are good but bahn mi are better. Now that I look at recipes they look a little more doable than I thought they were. I'll put them on my to do list.

LaDivaCucina said...

If everyone has so much trouble cooking with radishes and turnips, why do they grow them? I've read other blogs of people that do the CSA and they all complain about what to do with the turnips and radish!!! I'd prefer the soil be used for fennel and parsnips....I'd like to talk to Margie about why they choose what they choose to grow. Any ideas?

billjac said...

Margie's done surveys in the past to find out what people want, but nothing recently. I can't believe radishes ranked high then either though. (although most turnips are great. It's just the daikon that's giving me trouble. And I would have liked some fennel this year too.)

Our vegetables do come from a bunch of different farms so it's not just Margie making the decisions. I presume all the farmers have to think about what seed they've got on hand or can afford, how labor and cost intensive cultivation is for different species, and other factors beyond consumer demand. And, now that I think of it, as subscribers the specifics of our demands don't count as much as farmers market customers. Maybe we're getting stuff that isn't moving at the stands?

Margie, I know you read the blog sometimes. If you read this do please tell me where I'm getting it all wrong.

Karen said...

Well, not Margie but can offer this - parsnips need cold even freezing weather, so don't grow here at all. And we did get a small fennel in the box once but it's very slow growing and doesn't like heat too much. Turnips and radishes grow very quickly and aren't too finicky about weather, bugs leave them alone, and they don't need many nutrients, which make them good for organic growers in SoFL's nutrient-poor "soil". It's the joy of local - we get avocados and oranges, but no parsnips or asparagus.

I thought the Glazed Turnips that Bill did several miles back in this blog (post about the CG Fest was sort of long ;p ) were brilliant - I made them Sunday night using both the Salad Turnips plus some regular turnips that were in the Xtras box. Also the radish "tortilla" is now a regular. And I never liked turnips or radishes before.

But about the pancakes - I think the binder is critical, and the wringing out the liquid. A traditional German kartofelpuffer (while not really puffy) has flour binding the grated potatoes (a little lemon juice helps keep them from turning gray). My grandmother also added one potato that had been boiled and mashed, and an egg only if she thought it was needed. And cook undisturbed in a fair amount of hot fat so they form a crust.

Zucchini skillet cakes or pancakes recipes, otoh, seem to use eggs or, for vegans, silken tofu, plus filler of bread crumbs or such which is really a binder as well. A Bammy (yucca pancake) recipe that I use calls for an egg, even with that sticky-seeming stuff.

Can't wait to try the mooli paratha and look around Indian cookbooks for more from there, though ... thanks for that idea!

Sorry to be so long and speak to so many subjects at once ... :(

LaDivaCucina said...

Thanks Karen, what is a radish tortilla?

billjac said...

Karen's talking about this recipe I came up with for substituting radishes for potatoes in tortilla española. It works really well, I think.

On the other hand, both that and the turnip recipe I found were after the fact. Because of Florida's climate and soil organic farmers have to grow what they can grow and count on good foodies like us buy it. What we do with it is our problem. That's the deal we made when we signed up for the CSA. And that's why so many people drop out after a year or two.

LaDivaCucina said...

I understand how hard it is to grow things here, it's just so darn hot and humid. I've lived and gardened in Michigan, Illinois, California and Sydney, all with much better climates for growing a variety of herbs, veggies and flowers (i know the season is short up north though!)

But still, why can't we have more beans, oranges, tomatoes, potatoes? The fact that even the bugs don't want the radishes and turnips say something!!! After all, turnips feed the pigs in Europe, not the people!

Still, I've enjoyed it and am going to sign up again.

PS: I might have someone to take your share, I'll ask them today. Have a nice holiday.

billjac said...

I don't think the bugs' aversion to turnips and radishes means much. They don't like them raw--neither do I--but we're humans and we don't have to settle for raw food. Cooking, with the wider range of foods it makes edible, lowering of energy cost of digestion and nutrients it makes available, was vital in the evolution of humans and human civilization. By finding new ways to use radishes I'm participating in a tradition hundreds of thousands of years old.

On the other hand, I don't think Margie was thinking about any of that when she planted them so I am curious how she would respond to your questions.