Daikon is a long white radish with a crunchy texture and a lightly peppery taste. From pickles to salad and soups to stews, it’s widely used in Japanese cooking.
Daikon (大根, “big root”) is a widely used root vegetable in Japanese cuisine. It is a type of winter vegetable, characterized by its long white root and green leaves on top, resembling a huge pale carrot. It’s a nutritionally loaded, low-calorie vegetable.
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What Is Daikon
Daikon is a cruciferous vegetable that’s eaten raw, cooked, and pickled. It has a delightful crunchy texture and soaks up broths and flavors in braises and soups.
The root vegetable goes by many names, including Japanese radish, Asian radish, Chinese radish, white radish, and winter radish. Valued for its nutrition, it is not only enjoyed by the Japanese but also in many Asian cuisines.
What Does It Taste
Compared to other radishes, it is milder in flavor and less peppery. When served raw, it’s mild and tangy, with a crisp and juicy texture. When cooked, it has a concentrated sweet flavor similar to cooked turnips.
The Japanese also eat the sprouts called kaiware daikon (カイワレ大根), which have a peppery flavor that adds a pleasant kick to salads.
Approximate Weight Of Daikon
- 1 large daikon, including green leaves — 2.2 lb (1 kg)
- 1/2 daikon — roughly 1 lb (454 g)
- 1/4 daikon — 1/2 lb (227 g)
- 1 cup grated — 7.8 lb (220 g)
- 1 Tbsp grated — 0.5 oz (15 g)
How To Use
Daikon is commonly pickled and eaten in Japanese cuisine as a side dish or added to main dishes. You have most likely tasted daikon, grated finely, and served as an accompaniment to tempura. It’s refreshingly crunchy when eaten fresh and raw, and sweet and tender when cooked.
Also, don’t toss the green leaves away! Not only are they delicious, but they are packed with nutrients as well. It’s a hearty green, so you should cook it. Try adding a handful to stir-fries and miso soup.
Where to Buy
In the U.S., you can find it at Whole Foods, select Walmart stores, well-stocked grocery stores or even at your local farmers’ market or CSA. If not, check out your local Japanese or Asian grocery stores.
How To Choose The Best
Although it is known as a winter vegetable and reaches peak flavor between November to December, it is available year-round.
Here are some tips
- Pick one with leaves, but make sure the leaves are fresh looking and green and not frayed, yellow, or wilted
- Choose ones that are heavy, plump, and straight
- It has a beautiful shiny, white color and round tip
- It has firm and smooth skin with few pores
- Looks fresh and juicy
- Avoid daikon with divided roots, which implies the soil was not good
How To Store
To prolong the shelf life, separate the leaves and the root as the leaves absorb moisture from the root. Wrap it in plastic wrap or newspaper, put it in a plastic bag, and keep it in the refrigerator. It can keep well for one to two weeks. You can blanch and freeze it for up to one month.
As for the leaves, store them in the fridge for up to three days or in the freezer for up to a month.
Swap with any similar crunchy vegetable such as turnips, parsnips, or jicama.
In Japanese cuisine, it’s often served as an accompaniment to deep-fried dishes or heavy meals. Daikon is well known for its detox qualities that stimulate the elimination of fats and excess toxins. It also contains enzymes that help improve digestion and improve blood circulation.
Since it’s low in calories but high in fiber, daikon makes a delicious addition to everyday meals, especially if you wish to main a healthy weight. It helps to strengthen bones and improves the immune system and respiratory health.
Regarding nutrition, it is rich in potassium and vitamin C. Vitamin C helps promote wound healing, produces collagen and stabilizes blood sugar levels. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that may protect cells from free radicals. It also contains small amounts of fiber, folate, phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium.