Crisp radishes with butter and sea salt — a classic pairing exuding effortless elegance. Only a radical would think of tinkering with it. That’s what Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park did at The NoMad by fitting diminutive radishes in strapless white dresses. Now it seems like a given to adorn radishes in this simple — yet deceptively demanding — way. You have to get the butter to just the right consistency so that it clings flatteringly to the radish without slipping right off (no one wants a wardrobe malfunction). Successfully executed, it is a thing of real beauty.
32 farmer’s market baby radishes with greens intact*
1 pound of fine unsalted butter, room temperature**
2 1/2 tablespoons fleur de sel
*This dish works best with baby radishes or French (“breakfast”) radishes purchased at a farmer’s market, since they’re the perfect size and are far more likely to have their greens intact. Radish greens don’t keep well, so you’ll want to use them the same day if possible. If you can’t find radishes with attractive greens, you can simply cut the bruised greens off leaving a little green stem. They’ll still be wonderful!
**Do not use old butter that’s been sitting in your refrigerator, since butter picks up odors easily.
Dip a sponge in ice water and gently rub dirt off the radishes. Let the radishes dry. Temper the butter by placing it in a flame-proof glass or metal bowl over a small pot of gently simmering water on medium-low heat. As it heats, whisk the butter occasionally until it thickens and stabilizes to the consistency of melted chocolate or room temperature mayonnaise. Tempered butter should not resemble melted butter, which is too greasy and will not properly coat the radishes. If the butter melts, chill it and start over.
Prepare a plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper. One by one, dip the bottom half of each radish into the butter. Dip again to coat evenly. Shake them to remove excess butter. You can also use your finger to straighten the butter “line,” giving it a cleaner appearance. Place the coated radishes on the wax paper, sprinkle some fleur de sel over them, and chill them in the refrigerator until the butter is set, about 15 minutes. Serve on a flat surface with additional fleur de sel.
See also: Stella McCartney-inspired cake.