Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hong Vit Salad with Three Radishes

Back in September I joined Moore Farms and Friends (my famous “farm box” people), an association of regional and local farms that offers a variety of products throughout the year. My membership is more flexible (and probably more expensive) than a CSA. Each week the farm projects what will be offered in its $20 and $30 size “Farmer’s Pick” boxes. If I like the assortment then I select the appropriate box, and can order additional produce and products. Or, for a few extra dollars, I can bypass the pre-picked boxes and order exactly what I want from the long list of available produce (and other products). I can skip any week that I want – I only pay for what I order. I’ve surprised myself by ordering a box every single week since I’ve joined, except for weeks when I am not in town on Wednesday to pick up my order. All through the winter there was delicious regional food, including citrus, bitter greens, farm eggs and butter. Everything tastes noticeably fresher - we love our food from “the box!”

I don’t end up with anything that I don’t expect or choose. But there are some unusual offerings that I decide to try just for the adventure! A couple of weeks ago, the farm box offered hong vit, an Asian salad green that is in the radish family. Only this family member is grown not for its root but for its leaf. At the same time I ordered a beautiful assortment of white, red, and purple radishes. I thought it would be fun to combine these two radish-y cousins in a salad.

The first thing I did was a little online hong vit research. Information was a bit sparse. On a Chowhound post, I saw this tantalizing summary of a dish the poster had enjoyed at
Napa's celebrated Ubuntu restaurant:

"RADISHES with local chevre and nori
banyuls vinaigrette, smoked salt, HONG VIT"
Hmm, no pictures, not much to go on. A bit more digging turned up a tiny description of the dish here. From what I could gather it is a radish salad with accents of greens, and both sweet and smoky notes.

Although it was hard to tell exactly, the Ubuntu salad seemed to be in the same general direction I was headed - the combination of radish and radish green- and it gave me some further inspiration. I even had smoked salt! I wanted add more emphasis to the greens, without ignoring the radishes.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- The hong vit had a good bit of field grit. After 4 washes it was a little draggled!

- I used a vinaigrette that I'd made, inspired by Mark Bittman’s instructions in How To Cook Everything, using white wine vinegar and just a touch of Dijon mustard.

- My daughter A.L.E. gave me some wonderful smoked sea salt from a small spice purveyor in central
New York. I sprinkled that over the salad, along with some freshly ground pepper.

- To get a sweet and cheesy element I added some cubes of
Gjetost, a caramelized cheese from Norway. My daughters had given it to me for Mother’s Day, and I knew it would be perfect complement for the sharpness of the radishes.

- The garnish on top was a perfect farm box strawberry!

the verdict:

We loved this new set of flavors. The hong vit was very fresh tasting, and paired nicely with the crisp radish and sweet tangy cheese. The mellow vinaigrette tied it all together.
Overall, a fun experiment with a new (to us) salad green - thanks, farm box!


Di said...

That looks really good. And I'm quite envious of your farm box. I wish we had something similar here.

Jessica said...

Your farm box sounds wonderful -- I'm so jealous! I've often pondered joining a CSA around here but I think that I like going to the market so much more. It seems like your farm box might bring the market to you? And look at you, an Ubuntu salad? How chic! It sounds delicious and summery and I loved your descriptions of how the greens paired with the radishes and tangy cheese.

nick said...

Wow, way to go out of your way to try a new recipe. Sounds quite tasty.

It seems your non-CSA agreement is quite advantageous, if not slightly more expensive than the standard. I would def. do something like that if my farmers offered it.

I just got some ridiculous romaine off of a farm yesterday. Grown completely w/o chemicals (fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, etc.) When she handed it to me I looked all over for signs of browning/insect damage, and was wholly surprised when there was ZERO. I asked her what her loss rate was on these and she said: "close to 0." I replied with: "How do you do this?" She said, "I have 50 Guinea fowl and 30 Bantam Chickens that do nothing except eat insects."

oh... :)