I work in Fruitvale, the latino neighborhood of East Oakland, where all the signs are in Spanish, tamale carts are part of the morning commute, and technicolor quinceañera dresses fill shop windows. But I think my all-time favorite part about Fruitvale is the fruit carts.
Around lunchtime you can find a fleet of fruit carts along International Blvd, the main street running through the neighborhood. I can’t resist them. Ever. Baggies of fresh-cut fruits — the kind that is so annoying to prepare yourself — just sit there in perfect temptation: mango, watermelon, jicama, papaya, cucumber, coconut. And as if that weren’t tempting enough, your saliva production will go into high gear as you watch the fruit cart lady squeeze a lime, salt and chili powder on top before handing you your baggie. It is this fruit cart experience that inspired this simple but delicious recipe.
Well, it’s not really a recipe. It’s more of a “display.” Just whip out your mandolin (or a really sharp knife) and slice a watermelon radish and a pineapple super thin, and then display them beautifully on a plate. Then get in the mindset of a fruit cart lady: a squeeze of lime… a sprinkling of salt… a dash of chili powder… a big smile and a “que tenga un buen dia.” There isn’t a more simple and stunningly beautiful way to enjoy this gorgeous radish, in my opinion.
The watermelon radish, also known as shinrimei or red meat radish, is a type of heirloom daikon. Its pale green exterior and bright pink flesh make it look like…you guessed it…a watermelon. While it doesn’t taste like a watermelon, it is slightly sweeter and less peppery than a common red radish.
This nutritious veggie is a member of the brassica family, like broccoli and kale, which gets a lot of love in the nutrition world for being an antioxidant- and anticarcinogen-wielding superhero. In fact, the Chinese have their own version of our old adage “an apple a day…” but using a radish: “Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.” In addition to its healing and health benefits, it’s very bikini-body friendly, with only 16 calories in a cup.
You can enjoy this stunning radish in so many ways, so buy a couple and get crazy. I pickled some (see below), I threw some on salads, and I just ate them straight up. But the carpaccio was my favorite so it’s the one I’m sharing with you!
Watermelon Radish and Pineapple Carpaccio
- 1 watermelon radish
- 1/2 small pineapple
- 1 lime
- sea salt
- chili powder
Slice the radish thinly using a mandolin or very sharp knife. Trim the outside off the pineapple and slice it in thin rounds as well. Lay out the slices on a plate. Juice a lime over the radish and pineapple slices, sprinkle with salt and chili powder, and enjoy!