Radishes in Chile Oil Sauce ~ Qiang Luo Bo

Radishes doused with authentic Szechuan chile oil sauce? Seems destined to be a guaranteed conversation starter. Fresh radishes are salted, then slicked with a hot spiced oil and served at the beginning of a meal to rouse your appetite.

A white bowl of Radishes in chile oil sauce on a small round wooden table with a scraper beside the bowl.

This is a beautiful and stunningly simple dish to rouse the appetite at the start of a meal. Small red radishes are not a traditional Chinese vegetable, but a recent import. This recipe is based on a recipe for home cooking, Ji ben jia chang cai.–Fuchsia Dunlop

*Where do I find Szechuan chiles for the oil?

We admit it. We had a tricky time tracking down Szechuan chile peppers for this radishes in chile oil sauce recipe. No, not Szechuan peppercorns. Szechuan chiles. Your local Chinatown or Asian market will be your most reliable source, although we also made the chile oil using mostly chile de arbol (3 1/2 ounces) and a wee amount of dried cayenne peppers (1/2 ounce) with truly memorable—in a good way—results. We also had stellar, albeit inauthentic, results swapping a teaspoon of crushed red chile flakes for the Sichuanese chiles.

Radishes in Chile Oil Sauce | Qiang Luo Bo

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 10 M
  • 40 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Lightly smack the radishes with the side of a cleaver or a rolling pin. (The idea is to crack them open, not to smash them to smithereens.)

Pile the cracked radishes in a bowl, add the salt, and toss well. Set aside for 30 minutes.

Combine the sugar and soy sauce in a small bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chile and sesame oils.

When you’re ready to eat, drain the radishes—they will have released a fair amount of water—and shake them dry. Pour the chile oil mixture over the radishes and toss to mix well. That’s it. Really. You can go ahead and serve them now. Originally published February 19, 2013.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

These radishes in chile oil sauce are amazing. I could hardly stop eating them. Hubby loves Korean food and the first thing he said was “this has sesame oil in it, and it’s great.” I found some wonderfully fresh, smallish radishes with the tops still on them.

This recipe makes a great appetizer and a nice snack as well. I’d even consider serving it as a side dish with an Asian-themed meal. I think you could easily serve 4 or 5 as an appetizer.

What a unique recipe for crisp, peppery radishes. I’m a huge fan of radishes, whether raw, roasted, pickled—any way really—and I was intrigued to make this simple Chinese version. The mix of sesame oil, chile oil, soy sauce, and sugar is delectable. I would use this in my next stir-fry or even as a vinaigrette on a tender leaf salad. Maybe even on shredded cabbage and daikon radishes for a coleslaw base?

Back to the radishes in chile oil sauce recipe–how ingenious to smack the radishes so they absorb more of the delicious oil mixture. (I used a meat cleaver–a rolling pin split the radishes into pieces.) This recipe served about 4 people as an appetizer alongside crostini and a log of goat cheese. Not Asian, I know…but the creaminess of the cheese on the crisp bread was a nice counterpoint to the extremely flavorful radishes. It was so good to be able to dip the bread in the leftover sauce on the plate as well. I really loved this recipe and the wonderful chili oil leftovers it made!


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    1. Lisa, I’d suggest keeping them for no more than a day or two, as I fear the taste and texture will suffer beyond that. We’d asked our recipe testers how long they kept them in the fridge, but they disappeared too quickly for anyone to give us a good estimate!

      1. Vegetable such as radishes and cucumbers both have smooth surfaces. By smashing them with the side of a cleaver instead of making neat cuts, you can create much more irregular surface area for sauce to cling on to. For cucumbers, I usually cut baby cucumbers or English cucumbers into 3-inch pieces and then smash them.

    1. Hi, if you love radishes, you will really love them roasted with olive oil and salt on a baking tray at 350°F for 35 min. They are awesome.

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