Radish dilemmas, kitchen failures, and my new secret weapon
Case in point: these radishes. Check out the colours on those bad boys! I'm only used to radishes that are one colour, so when I was at the market and saw a dash of purple and yellow in with the usual pink, I decided I had to take a big bunch home with me.
Only, what happens when you've picked up your new hot veggie date based on looks alone? Now you've got to work out what to do with them. Not easy.
I'd had a craving for banh mi for a while, so in the absence of any Japanese radish in my fridge, I decided to make a version of the Vietnamese sandwich with the English kind of radish instead. Using it as a stand-in for mooli, I pickled some radishes and carrots, added them and some herbs to some marinated tofu, and bundled the whole lot into a baguette with some mayo.
Here's what happened:
The baguette was so chewy I had jaw ache by the time I finished the thing. I think the tofu cubes had been taking some tips on density from the bread too - that banh mi left me feeling like I'd had a whole face workout rather than a meal. I should have just tucked into a plate of radishes and left it at that.
Interestingly, I was wondering if radish leaves were edible (who wants to throw away good greens like that?) when I remembered dimly seeing a recipe for radish furikake a while back. I made a dehydrator version to see if I could turn the radish leaves into a nori-sprinkle type topping for rice. I'll let you know how that one goes in future...
Another bulletin from foods-that-looked-pretty-good-but-were-actually-disappointing world came in the form of an attempt to make a savoury vegan clafoutis, having been inspired by this non-vegan version.
The one I made was a mix of asparagus, spring onions and garden peas in a batter of soy milk, flour, flax eggs and cornstarch. Let's just say I got the ratios wrong, and ended up with something of the consistency of rice pudding with some veggies floating around in it. Not so good. (I mean, it tasted fine, and I'll give it another go with a bit more flour and that, but the texture? Yeuch.)
All it was was a head of fennel, a white onion and some garlic sweated off, with some chopped tomatoes, pasta, vegan sausages and my new secret weapon, aci biber salçası.
As far as I can work out, biber salçası is pretty much the pepper equivalent of tomato puree - a thick paste of boiled down hot and normal red peppers. It's got some nice, but not overpowering, heat to it, as well as lovely deep flavour. A tablespoon or two added into some pasta sauce left me covertly chasing the last smears of sauce around my plate with a hungry spoon.
I also put the sauce to work in a simple dish of roast veggies (aubergine, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes, onions) and black beans. I smothered the lot in a little stock, a little paprika, and a lot of biber salçası, and baked in the oven for a while. Once it was done in the oven, it got a going over with lime juice and parsley.
I was kind of pleased with the result - it did double duty as a topping for rice, and then as a sandwich filling with some guacamole. If you happen to see some biber salçası near you, I heartily suggest you pick some up - not only will it perk up your food, it can also help ease the sorrows of any recent failed dishes.