Quick pickled daikon, radish, and cucumber salad


There is so much to love about this simple salad. The fresh, colorful crispness that tastes, feels, and even looks like summer while resembling a Christmas-y candy cane in hue; the hydrating, tangy coolness of each bite. And I'd never belittle the much appreciated value of something that can be pulled together and varied so easily for a crunchy, guiltless snack or side. Even the slight lip pucker it can provoke is kind of fun. pickled radish, cucumber (2)

What's most lovable about this subtle variation on your standard quick refrigerator pickles though, is the unexpected appeal for our (once again) teething toddler, who last week was a clingy koala while working on some painful molars. The flare-up meant nose turned up at many a favorite for a little while. "Naw, sanks", he'd say firmly but politely. (He recently surprised us by demonstrating his acquisition of the sweetest new words/phrases--no thanks, and sorry "saaahhee, saaaheee".) Presented with a bowl of "pickles" though...and those darling little mitts of his shoveled them in! I won't pretend the magic lasted longer than a day or two, or possessed greater sparkle than frozen berries. But the point is, it was there, and vegetables were consumed in the midst of some tough toothy work.

A line in this blog post, "The Disease of Being Busy" (heartily recommend!), has been resonating with me since I read it the other week: When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings? I'll be the first to admit I can be a big hypocrite when it comes to this. Sometimes it's as if we all crave breathing room, and more time to pause, yet feel our self-worth diminishes when there is white space on the task list.

pickled radish, cucumber (1)

Watching Little Monkey brave through the latest teething spell and emerge with the usual fireball energy and more, it struck me how beautifully a toddler epitomizes what it means to be. He feels with such intensity; revels in each object, action, word, and connection. He doesn't think about the need to tick of a to-do list yet manages to fill each day with a zillion bold, unapologetic in the best way, and meaningful experiences. I too, ride the waves of emotions, but mine are tinged with the conscious effort to work toward specific accomplishments and prove myself a responsible adult, for better but also for worse.

canoeAnother line that leaped out to me during a rare quiet moment spent phone reading, "There are no grown-ups." As I play the part of adult, feigning extra patience during a momentary tantrum while wanting to throw one myself, I have to marvel at the suddenness with which all is well again. Smiles burst forth like rainbows on his kissably chubby face. We may never really grow up, deep down, but life teaches us to forget the fullness embraced in the purity of childhood. I wish I could jar up and preserve the radiance and joy. For Little Monkey to dip into in emergencies as his world shifts. For me to remember.

There is of course the odd trade-off, talking about passion and intensity. Teething, for one. Pretty intense. For that, it seems at least there can sometimes be an easy salve. This time, frozen berries, and quick pickles.

Quick pickled daikon, radish, and cucumber salad

  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • splash sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cucumber halved lengthwise (peeled or not) and thinly sliced
  • 1 daikon radish, peeled and halved lengthwise, thinly sliced
  • 4 red radishes, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water, honey, soy sauce, oil, garlic, ginger and salt. Pour over sliced vegetables and stir to coat. Let sit in refrigerator or at room temperature at least an hour before serving.