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The Fakir radish has a petite, round root topped with rather short green leaves. The roots have a smooth exterior and uniform coloring of scarlet red and white tips, similar to that of the French breakfast radish. A quick-growing crop, they are usually harvested three to four weeks after germination. They are best when approximately the size of a large marble, young and juicy with a spicy radish bite. If left to grow too long Fakir will develop a mealy texture and more intense heat.
The Fakir radish can be found year-round but is best when grown in the cooler months.
The Fakir radish is a cultivar of Raphanus sativus and a member of the Brassicaceae family. Radishes are generally a cool weather crop and can develop very spicy or bitter flavors when grown in hot conditions. The Fakir radish is a specialty French radish and is similar in coloring and flavor to the popular French breakfast and cherry belle radish.
Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C, so much so that they have been used historically by sailors and explorers to help prevent scurvy during lengthy trips at sea. Additionally, they contain water, folic acid, potassium, vitamin B6, and iron. They also contain fiber and a digestive enzyme called diastase which helps promote a healthy digestive system.
The petite Fakir radish is ideal for use raw in fresh and simple preparations. They can be washed and eaten out of hand as is, with or without the greens still attached. The petite radishes can be served alongside whipped butter, soft cheeses, and creamy dips. Try scoring the tip of the radish with an X to improve the ability of the smooth-skinned radish to pick up soft dips. Fakir radish greens are edible and can be eaten raw along with the radish or removed and added to salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, and soups. Sliced thin Fakir radish can be added to tacos, salads, or served atop toasted bread. For crisper radishes the Fakir can be soaked in ice water for an hour prior to eating. Sliced or whole Fakir radish can also be sautéed, blanched, braised, or roasted. To store keep Fakir radish refrigerated with greens still attached and use within two weeks’ time.
In European culture radishes were classically served as a palate cleanser between courses or at the beginning of a meal. A nod to this tradition is playfully mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, “Like a man made after supper of a cheese-pairing; when a’was naked, he was, for all the world, like a forked radish, with a head fantastically carved upon it with a knife.”
The Fakir radish is believed to have been developed in France where it was bred specifically to have a uniform shape and color. Fakir radish is most commonly found grown and distributed in England and France though it can be found sold occasionally in the United States when in season at specialty grocers and farmers markets. When growing Fakir radish plants are sensitive to hot, dry weather and prefer a mild climate and ample moisture. Care should be taken as not to harvest the Fakir radish too late as to prevent the radishes from developing a pithy texture or unpleasant degree of heat.