‘One of my earliest memories is of pulling up an entire radish patch. I placed my soil-covered treasures on the garden table for my mother. Our neighbour, whose vegetable patch I had just pillaged, wasn’t quite as pleased as I was and I had to return them and apologise. No wonder I take such pleasure in cooking with my own home-grown radishes now’
Pickled radishes with sticky-soy pork belly and Japanese mayonnaise
80g white miso paste
1tspn five-spice powder
30ml soy sauce
1tspn ginger, finely grated
1.2kg piece pork belly, skin
scored at half-inch intervals
3tbspn sea salt
250ml rice-wine vinegar
1tbspn salt flakes
400g radishes, washed and sliced, tops reserved
8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 spring onion, sliced diagonally
Rice, radish tops tossed with lemon juice and Japanese mayonnaise are available at Asian supermarkets and Marks & Spencer
In a small saucepan, place the miso paste, five-spice powder, honey, soy sauce, sake and ginger. Heat until the mixture has reduced by a third. Then, place the pork belly, flesh side up, into a roasting dish. Pour the miso sauce all over it, using the back of a spoon to spread it out.
Leave to marinade for an hour and then turn the meat skin side up and use kitchen roll to remove any sauce that may be on the surface. Scatter the sea salt over it and place it in your fridge overnight.
When you’re ready to cook the meat, remove it from the fridge and wipe away any excess moisture from the skin with kitchen paper. Bring to room temperature and then roast for about 2-21⁄2 hours at 170˚C/150˚F/gas mark 3.
Mix together the rice-wine vinegar, sugar and salt in a large jar. Remove the leaves and roots from the radishes and wash them all well. Quarter the radishes and place them into the large jar, along with the whole peeled cloves of garlic and sliced spring onion. Place a lid on the jar and leave for at least two days (or up to a month).
Serve the roasted pork belly with the pickled radishes, white rice, radish tops tossed with lemon juice and Japanese mayonnaise.
More ways with radishes
Scandi sea-trout salad with radishes
Make a salad using sea trout, red onion, finely sliced fennel, finely sliced radishes and a mixture of radish tops and other mixed salad leaves. For a dressing, mix together equal amounts of olive oil and natural yoghurt. Add lemon juice, fresh dill, seasoning and half a crushed clove of garlic. Pour it over the salad and serve with rye bread.
Remove the roots from the radishes and cut the tops off, reserving them for serving. Halve the washed radishes and place them cut side down in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle olive oil over them, season with sea salt and roast in a moderate oven for about 20 minutes. Once cooked, pour melted butter over them, add a squeeze of lemon and scatter with the chopped radish tops and fresh parsley. Serve with a buttered, toasted baguette.
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