Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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The problem with gardening —

Is the sudden desperate need to find something to do with the pak choi, broccoli raab, the last of the snap peas, the first of the green beans, the amaranth (I tried amaranth last year — very easy to grow and self-sows EVERYWHERE, but the bean beetles love it and turn many leaves into lacework), etc, etc.

My favorite new vegetable? New to me, I mean? Daikon radishes. Love ’em! They’re turning out great! Way, way better than the little round red ordinary radishes, which didn’t work out at all this spring. The little radishes were too hard to cut with a knife by the time they were big enough to be worth picking! What gives? I may grow only daikons from now on.

The daikons are maturing right now. Here’s my favorite thing to do with them, so far. This is a fusion Thai-Sichuan recipe I made up, based on a recipe for spicy daikon slivers from Fushia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty.

10 rice paper wrappers
30 medium shrimp
8 oz daikon, grated
8 oz carrots, grated
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 Tbsp chile oil (Dunlop suggests 4 Tbsp! Much too hot for me!)
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil (Dunlop suggests 2 tsp)

Grate the daikon and carrot using a food processor. Place in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and toss. Leave for half an hour. Squeeze out excess liquid and place in bowl.

Combine the sugar, vinegar, chile oil, and sesame oil. Toss with daikon and carrots.

Peel and devein the shrimp, saute in butter or oil or whatever you like, and set aside.

Soak each rice paper wrapper in hot water for about 30 seconds, or until flexible. arrange about 2-3 Tbsp grated daikon-carrot mixture in a log shape near one side of the wrapper. Lay three shrimp on top. Roll up like a burrito. Set aside and repeat with remaining wrappers. You may have some daikon-carrot mixture left over. I’d say this is a generous but light lunch dish for two, or you could stretch the daikon-carrot mixture, add a couple more rice paper wrappers and a few more shrimp, and probably have enough for twelve rolls and three people.

I imagine crab or fake crab (surimi) or scallops or maybe even cooked chicken breast would probably work, too. I have lots more daikons in the garden, so I may try each of those in turn.

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