Labelled as daikon in the organic supermarket, I grabbed a big white radish on top of the pile, bagged it and weighed it. Sigh, after so many years, I meet this radish again. I have known this vegetable as labanos in the Philippines. Imagining it thinly sliced, combined with chopped tomatoes and drowned in vinegar, I couldn't help hastening my movements. I had to prepare it quickly. As much as I loved this salad when I was younger, it had been ages since I last had it. I had completely forgotten about it.
I never prepared any white radish in my life but I do remember my Mom's ringing voice whenever we have new help in the kitchen. "Don't forget to rub the thinly sliced radish with rock salt then squeeze as hard as you can to send away the bitter liquid." So when my turn came the other day, I rubbed & squeezed the pulp with rock salt, just like how I remember my Mom would always say. I would have called her excitedly like those times when something exciting happens, but I forgot that the other end of the line is already empty. She's been gone for almost two years. I can categorize finding white radishes exciting that only my mother would understand. I had the strangest habit of calling her just to ask what she's having for lunch or dinner. Her answer alone transports me back to the other home I left behind.
I didn't need to have any grilled fish to pair it with because I finished two servings before I even started to cook. I was going to grill some salmon and I don't think they go well together anyhow.
I ate it in the silence of the kitchen with just the company of my memories. It was both comforting and melancholic. I had been too busy with my life that I forgot how nice it is to sit down and reminisce about my parents, my siblings, my past life.
We had a noisy house, with the kitchen as the most active part of the house. Meeting each other after midnight in the kitchen to rummage through the fridge and cooking impromptu dishes was something very normal at home. We were more complete as a family for our midnight snacks than when we eat our breakfast. Some fond memories give me a big smile but when my heart starts to skip, I know I'd better stop reminiscing too much because that smile turns into a tear. So let me take this cue and hand you over this simple recipe.
Daikon & Tomato SaladIngredients:
- 1 daikon, shaved
- Coarse salt
- 100 grams datterini or cherry tomatoes or any other tomatoes that you have, minced (adjust the amount according to your taste)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- Chives, chopped finely (optional)
- 1/8 cup white or red wine vinegar
- Fine salt
- Peel the daikon and cut off both ends. Shave the pulp with a peeler. Mix the daikon with a lot of coarse salt using your hands and squeeze the radish pulp a little bit while mixing. Leave for half an hour or more.
- After half an hour, squeeze out the excess liquid then move the pulp to a medium to big strainer while rinsing under the faucet. Rinse well and squeeze out the excess water completely.
- Transfer the daikon to a bowl then add the tomatoes, onions and chives (if using).
- In another bowl, mix the vinegar, salt the pepper. Add a pinch of sugar to break the sourness of the vinegar. Pour on the salad. If it needs more, adjust the amount of the dressing.