March, the new month, has started without notice. March in Japan generally is still filled with chilly air but no more snow, at least in my area. The calendar suggests us a real spring would come in the end of February; however, this lower temperature doesn't make us believe so. But the REAL spring will bloom very very soon and I can't wait for it.
As for ingredients between winter and spring, adorable shape of radish is outstanding in the market.
The usual farmer’s market that I do most of my grocery shopping has a great selection of radish with colors of white, red, pink, and sometimes yellow. White ones and red ones are commonly produced in my area. Naturally, my eyes are always drawn to the particular color, red radishes. The color of red stands out in the vegetable sections in winter. What I like is not only the color but a texture and edible leaves come with round and fat radishes!
I feel the real winter gradually steps out as the next season arrives. Yet, radishes are winter vegetable and every winter, we make bunch of pickled (or marinated, I should call) radish that we can serve in a small plate and munch between other dishes on the table.
Radish itself (root) and its leaves share different nutrition.
The root part belongs to light-colored veggies which contains vitamin C and amylase that is also known as digestive enzyme that helps digest starch. Amylase works beautifully on heartburn and an icky feeling.
Leaves are one of green and yellow vegetables, just like other leafy vegetables. Radish leaves have full of carotene, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, and fiber.
Overall, radish warms up stomach and helps remove excess water to stop swelling. From the story my grandmother told us, radishes have been used as a remedy to stop stomachache. This is so true from yakuzen/medicinal food theory, as well.
Also, radishes clean the body system. For example, you apply some juice from grated radishes onto bug bites then the infected area will be cleaned by the natural power of radishes. As you can guess, radish also helps dry mouth and stops coughing. This can be an amazing benefit, especially in winter time, being in heated rooms.
Taste: Sweet, Bitter
(Partial Reference: Wikipedia)
Benefits: Warming stomach, swelling, keeping warmth, cough, dry mouth, filling yang qi (positive energy)
2 large radish (red or white)
1 strip of konbu (dried seaweed)
1 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon konbu tea powder (or a regular dashi powder will work, too!)
Slice radish thinly with a slicer. Soak sliced radish in a bowl filled with water.
In a small pan, add rice vinegar and konbu strip over a medium heat until boiling.
Remove the pan from a heat and cool it. Take out konbu strip (cut konbu strip add in the cooled rice vinegar later, if you like)
Drain sliced radish from water.
Once the vinegar is cooled down in a room temperature, put the vinegar into the clean bottle.
Add sliced radish (konbu strip as your option) into the vinegar.
Leave it for at least 1 day before serving.
This is the easiest but healthiest pickled radish! From my experience, you can store the radish in the bottle for one month or longer. The juice from radish turns to be more vividly colorful as time goes by. This pickled radish can entertain our eyes and taste buds.