Writing Recipes, One Radish At A Time
People often ask where Crop Stories gets its recipes from, who tests them, how good are they. They are fair questions, usually lobbed by food writers or stylists. And they are important questions, especially given the onslaught of free horrible recipes online.
We write them, I say. Well, Caitlyn Hardy, our food editor, does, with influence from the wide world of cookbooks, of course. We test them together. The results, I'm happy to say, are fucking magnificent.
Because of deadlines, I began testing contributed chef recipes for the last Crop Stories issue, mostly because it's easier to shoot the finished product, if it works, in home in my kitchen, on my own time. Testing recipes, really, is a way to take more photographs of food. But I've been in enough rooms at conferences with professional recipe writers to know not to take the task lightly.
As I wrote two weeks ago, I like thinking critically about how we write recipes. And I tried to bring a critical mind to writing the first recipe since that post, one for a Cincinnati Radish Kimchi.
I often make quick kimchi with whatever root vegetables, cabbages or greens that are lying around when I'm in the mood for funky heat, but I'd never used a recipe before. So I began with a quick scallion kimchi that I found in the beautiful and simple "One Good Dish" by David Tanis, and went from there.
In the name of transparency, and perhaps to crowdsource the editing, I'm posting just the directions from my first draft for the recipe below, and I'd love to hear what you think. Is it clear enough? Are the directions have enough detail?
Wash radishes. Remove radish greens by slicing off last half inch of taproot. Cut radishes into sticks, about three inches long and about a half-inch wide. Width and length of the cut is negotiable; slice to a size you won't mind eating. Place in a large mixing bowl, glass or ceramic is preferred.
With a sharp knife, rough chop scallions, using green and whites parts but discarding ends, wilted outer layers and first half inch of green tip. Put all that in the compost or save for stock. Add chopped scallions to mixing bowl.
Shake half the salt onto radishes and scallions. Stop and mix salt and vegetables together. Add remaining salt then toss to ensure scallions, radishes and salt are thoroughly mixed.
Grate ginger onto radishes and scallions.
Mince garlic and add to mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to bowl and mix together to coat radishes evenly.
Cover mixing bowl with plate or towel and leave standing undisturbed for at least 24 hours, or up to three days. Transfer to Mason jar and refrigerate.