Radishes go hand-in-hand with spring. Their vibrant color, satisfying crunch and hint of spice make them an ideal choice for chefs looking to add freshness to spring menus after a season of robust winter dishes.
Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant
Radishes add a hint of pepper to executive chef Carlos Hernandez’s dishes at Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant in St. Louis. “It’s a good vegetable to use in the spring,” he says. “It’s light and [has] got a good flavor to it, a little spice. It can go with anything.” Hernandez has used shaved red radishes on a tuna carpaccio and to balance out a roast-suckling pig with shaved fennel and cilantro. “The crisp [texture] and spiciness of the radish brings out all the flavor from the richness of the pork,” he says. This spring, look for radishes to show up in a few different dishes on his menu, as well as at sister restaurant Whitebox Eatery, where it garnishes an Asian-ginger-pear salad and appears in a slaw on a sandwich. “When I have something I like, I like to put it in a couple dishes in different ways,” he says, mentioning the addition of citrus-marinated octopus with red radish, fennel, celery and chimichurri on Modesto’s spring menu.
Modesto Tapas Bar & Restaurant, 5257 Shaw Ave., The Hill, St. Louis, Missouri, 314.772.8272, modestotapas.com
Radishes are a common topping for tacos, so it makes sense that Kansas City chef-owner Carlos Mortera uses them on several sandwiches at his Mexican-Korean spot, The Bite. Most notable is the Señor Chang, the sandwich that started it all. Korean short ribs are marinated in gochujang, soy sauce, garlic, salt, sugar and ginger and topped with queso fresco, radishes, cilantro, jalapeños and pickled onions on a bolillo baguette from local Bloom Baking Co. “It’s one of my favorite sandwiches,” Mortera says. “I still don’t get tired of eating it. When we first opened, I was probably eating it almost once a day.” The Bite celebrated its two-year anniversary in March; Mortera works with his younger brother to make the restaurant’s fusion sandwiches and sides. He calls the combination of radishes, pickled onions and cilantro the “The Bite trinity” and uses it as often as possible. “It’s just another layer of flavor,” Mortera says. “I use radishes in everything for the texture, for the freshness or just for the little hint of spiciness that they bring to the dish.” For an extra helping of radishes, ask for The Bite’s “secret” taco menu or try the vegetarian chorizo sandwich.
The Bite, 23 E. Third St., River Market, Kansas City, Missouri, 816.503.6059, facebook.com/thebitekc
Bleu Restaurant & Catering
At Bleu Restaurant & Catering in Downtown Columbia, Missouri, dining is meant to be an experience; you don’t drop by to be in and out in 30 minutes, according to chef de cuisine Charles Williams. Bleu is currently undergoing a few minor cosmetic changes, and a menu overhaul is coming soon. Until then, Williams uses spring radishes for their vibrant color. “With springtime, fresh is what everybody looks for,” he says. “In winter, you’re eating that hearty, bone-sticking food – now, you want to lighten, brighten things up, so that’s what I like to do.” Radishes top the ponzu-glazed salmon entrée, which plates seared salmon with a citrus-soy glaze, broccolini, wild rice, quick-pickled cucumber and julienned carrots. Williams picks up radishes from farmers’ markets when possible, and his favorite variety is the watermelon radish. “Have you ever seen a watermelon radish?” he says. “Especially here in mid-Missouri, people will go crazy [for them].”
Bleu Restaurant & Catering, 811 E. Walnut St., Downtown, Columbia, Missouri, 573.442.5123, bleucolumbia.com