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Margelan radishes can widely vary in size and shape, depending on its growing conditions. The roots generally have a cylindrical, round, oval to elongated shape, and the skin is semi-rough, matte, firm, and pale green, sometimes displaying a white nose on the non-stem end. Underneath the surface, the flesh is dense, aqueous, and crisp, ranging in color from pale green to variegated hues of white and green, to pale green with some faint dark green striping. Margelan radishes have a juicy and crunchy, snap-like quality with a mildly vegetal, sweet, and sharp flavor.
Margelan radishes are available in the fall through winter.
Margelan radishes, botanically classified as Raphanus sativus, are uniquely shaped, edible green roots that belong to the Brassicaceae family. Also known as Chinese radishes, Lobo, and Green radishes, Margelan radishes are native to China and have been cultivated throughout Asia since their introduction on the Silk Road. Margelan radishes were especially popular in Margilan, Uzbekistan, which is the city the radish is named after, and the variety is favored for its resistance to frost, semi-sweet taste, and juicy, crisp nature. Margelan radishes also have an unusual growth habit where the majority of the root is situated above ground, allowing farmers to harvest the root by hand without the use of a tool.
Margelan radishes are an excellent source of minerals such as manganese, potassium, and magnesium and also contain some iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. In Asian folk medicine, Margelan radishes are juiced and mixed with honey to help reduce symptoms associated with respiratory conditions and contain fiber to help cleanse the digestive tract.
Margelan radishes are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as boiling, steaming, and sautéing. The radishes are most commonly consumed fresh to preserve their flavor and nutrients and can be sliced or grated raw into many different variations of salads. In Uzbekistan, Margelan radishes are popularly incorporated into cold soups such as carlop, also known as chalap and chalob. This cold yogurt soup minces radishes with cucumbers, parsley, dill, and cilantro and is traditionally served as an appetizer on hot summer days. Margelan radishes can also be layered onto sandwiches, used as a vessel for dips, or they can be pickled for extended use and served as a side dish or condiment. In addition to fresh preparations, the radishes can be minced into fillings for dumplings, simmered in hot soups, cooked into casseroles or potato dishes, or sautéed and served as a simple side dish with salt. Margelan radishes pair well with meats such as lamb, pork, beef, sausage, and fish, squid, eggs, mushrooms, pumpkin, red onion, tomatoes, beets, apples, pears, celery, and hazelnuts. The fresh radishes will keep up to four months when stored in a professional cellar with controlled humidity and temperature. When stored in home refrigerators, the radishes will keep up to one month.
Margelan radishes are commonly incorporated into plov, which is a well-known rice dish across Central Asia and is regarded as Uzbekistan’s national dish. Plov is also known as osh and pilaf, and there are many variations of the recipe with rice, cooked meat, and carrots as the foundation. In Uzbekistan, plov centers are found in the major cities that act as a gathering place for locals. At the centers, chefs can prepare plov for over one thousand people, and the dish is cooked in a kazan, which is a large pot or cauldron placed over an open fire. Plov centers only serve plov with bread, sometimes salad, tea, and other drinks, and the national dish is a favored meal for special occasions, family gatherings, and weddings. Plov is a symbol of community in Uzbekistan, and plov centers further exemplify the feeling of comradery by cooking large batches of food in communal halls. Variations of plov include ingredients like apricots, Margelan radishes, raisins, garlic, onions, and typically serve lamb, horse sausage, a delicacy of the region, or beef.
Margelan radishes are native to China and have been cultivated since ancient times. The roots were then spread across Asia and Europe along the Silk Road, where they were used for trade. Margelan radishes became established in many cities, including Margilan in Uzbekistan, which is the city the root is named after, and the radish was also introduced to Russia, where it later became registered in 2007. Today Margelan radishes are commercially cultivated in Uzbekistan, Korea, China, Japan, and Ukraine, and the roots are also grown through small farms and in home gardens throughout Asia and Europe.
Recipes that include Margelan Radish. One is easiest, three is harder.
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