Japanese love Daikon radish as it is a versatile vegetable that can be cooked in a variety of dishes. You can enjoy the whole daikon from leaves to root. Discover how Japanese use different parts of this white radish with a variety of cooking methods that suit each part of the plant, and how to store it correctly too.
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What is Daikon?
大(large) 根(root) literally means large root. So it is a large root vegetable which belongs to a cruciferous vegetable group like cabbage and broccoli. Although it originated on the mediterranean coast and had been also eaten in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, Daikon radish is the most familiar and popular root vegetable among Japanese people. Both percentages of production and consumption of the vegetable by Japanese are very high in the world. In Japan, there are various local varieties, such as Aokubi (commonly distributed through the market in Japan), Miyajima, Moriguchi and Sakurajima etc
A vegetable full of nutrients
You will love it because it contains Vitamin C and the digestive enzyme diastase in its roots. Furthermore, its leaves are also edible and full of nutrients. The leaves contain a large amount of carotene, vitamin B, C, D and E. Moreover, this Japanese radish is such an all-purpose vegetable so it can be enjoyed in various dishes such as pickled daikon, salads, oden, stir-fried dishes, soups condiments.
Where to Get Daikon From?
Daikon is in season in winter, however, you can buy it throughout the year in Japan. I can only speak for Australia where now I live, but as Japanese cuisine becomes more popular so does this white radish. Now I can buy this special vegetable from local fresh produce markets in winter and also from Japanese/Asian grocers almost year around. If you can not find it in your local shops, you can grow daikon from seed. It is not a difficult vegetable to grow and you can get Radish Seeds easily from online shops. I found mine from Bunnings.
How to Pick Good Daikon?
Choose the ones which are firm and taut to the touch and quite solid and heavy. Also, it has white and smooth skin with evenly spaced small holes which are straight down to the bottom. It is said that if those small holes are uneven and distorted, then the vegetable will have a strong pungent taste. Thus, choose the one that has fresh leaves, so not discoloured yellow and wilted. The leaves are edible too, so if you can buy it with leaves, you get more for your money. If the leaves are cut, avoid the cut part for it is dry and pithy. If new leaves are shooting avoid buying these because this is signs of older age.
What Dikon can be Substituted with?
Turnip (kabu in Japanese), Radish (Hatsuka daikon), Kohlrabi or winter melon can be substituted where you need Japanese radish in recipes.
How Daikon is Used in Japanese cooking?
Leaves: Ohitashi salad, Stir fry and also it will make good furikake.
Top: The top part where the stems start, is juicier and sweeter hence this part is suitably served raw as salad and in Oroshi (grated).
The middle part: has a balanced taste of sweet and spicy and the texture is soft firm. So it is recommended to use in dishes which can enhance the taste and texture of Daikon such as Oden.
The bottom part: This part has a spicer taste and contains less juice. Therefore seasonings easily penetrate through so it is recommended to use for pickles and simmered dishes or as an ingredient for a soup such as miso soup.
Which part is the best for Daikon Oroshi (grated Daikon)?
If you like a sweeter taste, use the top part and cut the radish vertically, and grate it along the fibres. In addition, the spiciness can be further reduced by leaving it for a while after grated instead of using it straight away.
On the other hand, if you prefer stronger spice, use the bottom part of radish. Cut it horizontally, then grate against the fibres to break it right before it is consumed.
How to Store Daikon?
Unless you have a large family to feed, it is hard to use the whole daikon in one go since this white radish is quite big in size. Therefore, it is important for most people to store the vegetable properly. It contains a lot of moisture and that moisture will be dried out from the leaves. Thus if you buy it with leaves still attached, the first thing you need to do is to remove the leaves because the leaves will deprive nutrients and water from its root. The leaves will wilt quickly so eat them on the day you but it if possible.
Wrap the Japanese radish with kitchen paper towel or newspaper and then with a sheet of cling wrap. Keep it upright in the fridge the same as you do for Shungiku. They will keep for about 2 weeks.
Pre-cut the radish according to how it is going to be used. Place them in a ziplock freezer bag in one portion sizes. Those frozen daikon pieces will be great in soup, and simmered dishes. Also, you can freeze grated daikon. Drain the juice from the grated radish, put them in a ziplock bag and freeze it. They will keep for about 3 weeks.
Healthy Recipes Using Daikon
A: Yes and no. For grated daikon, I would get an organically grown one and use it without peeling because food enzymes and nutrients are abundant near the skin. The skin also has an astringent taste as well so Japanese peel and prepare it in the water used to wash rice which will remove the astringent taste.
A: Yes. It will last for about three days in room temperature. In winter could be a little longer. See how to store in the above post.
A: This radish only has 2.7g net carb. Therefore it is definitely keto-friendly.
A: Yes according to https://www.monashfodmap.com/blog/winter-warming-fun-asian-hot-pot/