"Eating pungent radish and drinking hot teas, let the starved doctors beg on their knees" – Chinese proverb
Gobo is burdock root, and a traditional Japanese ferment for burdock may be applied to other roots. Here, I am using the long, red-skinned Japanese radish. The radishes are first washed with a vegetable brush to remove the dirt, rootlets and imperfections whilst retaining as much of the skin as possible. If you don’t own a dedicated vegetable brush, a dishwashing brush in good condition, or even lightly applied steel scourers may be used. Slice the radishes into rounds or half rounds for big roots, about 2 mm or so thick. Think of sushi ginger, or a bit thicker.
In a pot, take equal parts rice wine vinegar, salt, sugar, and soy sauce, heat, and then let cool. For 4 kg of radishes, I used 1/6 of a cup of each. Grate some ginger root and massage into the sliced radish, then do the same with the cooled liquid. After a while, you will notice a brine in the bottom of your bowl, this is the time to load the radishes into jars or crocks. Push them down as tightly as you can so no air is left, and so more brine is expressed. When the jar or crock is full, cover with the remaining brine. I also added some gochujang (fermented red chilli paste from Korea) to some of my radish. Wheat free tamari was used so this ferment is gluten free and vegan, but the batch fermented with gochujang is technicallynot gluten free because the chilli paste ferment is activated by a wheat enzyme (even though it most likely contains no gluten).
These will ferment on the bench for 5 – 7 days, black and white sesame seeds can be added, then place in small jars and refrigerate. Fermentation enhances all of the health and medicinal benefits of radishes, as it does with all foods. Radishes are a low calorie, high fibre food that is high in water content and vitamin C. They also contain fair levels of vitamin K, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, niacin, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, and copper. Radishes contain detoxifying indoles, the flavonoid anti-oxidants lutein, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin (which are also good for eye health), and a host of beneficial enzymes. Add to this the high level of isothiocyanates which interrupt the reproductive pathways of cancerous cells, and we begin to see why radish is a traditional medicine food for many conditions. No food should be considered as a treatment for any condition alone, but in conjunction with other measures and advice, the humble radish is beneficial for the following conditions: cancer, jaundice, piles, urinary disorders, kidney disorders, respiratory disorders, skin complaints, fever, liver and gall bladder complaints, metabolic imbalance, whooping cough, nausea, loss of appetite and halitosis.
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