By Edward Schneider
Saturday’s quick scoot through the Union Square Greenmarket – Jackie and I were in haste to beat the afternoon thunderstorms that never came – yielded a pint of half-and-half and three bunches: tiny turnips, elongated white radishes and the skinniest little red scallions you can imagine. It was tempting to shred or paper-thin-slice the turnips and radishes (closely related botanically, incidentally) and make them into some kind of salad, but I’d faced down a salad the night before and was still unsettled by the encounter.
So I cut the scallions into one-and-a-half-inch lengths, stir fried them in peanut oil (I’d have used ginger too if I hadn’t made it all into lemon-ginger syrup the day before) and turned them into fried rice, adding a couple of scrambled eggs seasoned with salt, white pepper and sesame oil. Great rice: there’s nothing like salty, slightly caramelized members of the onion family in fried rice.
And as to the other two bunches, I simply poached the turnips and radishes in a mixture of dry sherry, good Japanese soy sauce, oyster sauce, Barbara Tropp goop, sriracha and water, then left them to cool in the liquid, which gave them a great deal of flavor. While they were steeping, I sautéed/steamed the greens with garlic; they retained some of their bitterness – a plus, in my eyes. I then reheated the roots, fished them out of the poaching liquid and added them to the cooked greens, moistening it all with some of that liquid.
We generally use some kind of meat or seafood in fried rice and it is usually a one-dish dinner, but this was a flavorful change of pace. The turnips and radishes kept their individual identities (spicy radishes; sweet turnips with that good cabbagey undertone), and the greens were nice and bitter, with everything held together by the mixture the roots had cooked in.