Julienned daikon and carrot pickled in a sweet vinegar sauce, Namasu is a refreshing salad commonly served as a Japanese New Year’s dish. You’ll love the bright and zesty flavor!
Namasu (紅白なます) is daikon and carrot salad lightly pickled in sweetened vinegar. Crunchy, slightly sharp with a bright refreshing taste, Namasu can be enjoyed all year round.
What is Namasu?
Namasu (なます) is daikon and carrot salad lightly pickled in sweetened vinegar. It’s also called Kohaku (red and white) Namasu (紅白なます). It was first introduced to Japan from China around the 700s (Nara period).
Red and white are considered celebratory colors in Japan and these colors are often used in many traditional ceremonies. Namasu has been especially enjoyed during the New Year in Japan and you can find this dish in Osechi Ryori (Japanese New Year foods).
Watch How to Make Namasu (Daikon & Carrot Salad)
Julienned daikon and carrot pickled in a sweet vinegar sauce, Namasu is a refreshing salad commonly served as a Japanese New Year’s dish. You’d love this bright and just slightly sharp flavor!
Why We Should Make Namasu?
- Easy and kept well – Namasu is extremely easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time.
- Goes well with any dish – If you like lightly pickled salad, you will enjoy this dish as an appetizer or as a side to your main dishes like grilled fish and meat. I like to add this in the kids’ bento boxes as well.
- Add colors to your meal – Wonderful way to introduce multiple colors to your plate! Besides daikon and carrot, you can also include cucumbers for another layer of color and crunch.
- Easily accessible ingredients – No special ingredients necessary. Crunchy root vegetables along with sugar, salt, and rice vinegar.
3 Tips to Make Japanese Daikon & Carrot Salad
- Even thickness – Whether you cut into julienned strips by yourself or use a mandolin or a julienne peeler, try to have equal shapes for the best texture.
- Squeeze! – The key to this dish is to make sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the veggie, it creates optimal crunchiness.
- A hint of citrus – In Japan, there are usually a few strips of yuzu zest added on top of the salad. Yuzu strips add an amazing citrus fragrance to the dish. For those lucky ones who can access to fresh yuzu in your area, you’d definitely want to include it in this salad.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Namasu (Daikon and Carrot Salad)
- 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
- 1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)
- 1 Tbsp water
- ¼ tsp kosher or sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt)
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Peel the daikon and cut into 2-inch (5 cm) pieces in length. Peel the carrot.
- Cut the daikon in half (this will be the length of daikon in the final dish). Then cut into thin slabs about ⅛-inch (3mm) thickness.
- Then stack a few slabs at a time and cut them into julienned strips, about ⅛-inch (3mm) thickness. Put them in a large bowl.
- Cut the carrot into thin slabs and then into julienned strips.
- Add 1 tsp salt and give a gentle massage. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the seasonings in a large bowl.
- Whisk well together until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Squeeze water from the julienned daikon and carrot and put them in the bowl with the seasonings.
For Garnish (Optional)
- Peel off the zest of the bottom of yuzu. Remove the pith.
- Cut into julienned strips and garnish on top of namasu.
To Serve and Store
- Serve namasu in a bowl and garnish with yuzu zest. If you have a whole yuzu fruit, you can create a yuzu cup by cutting off the top (this will be a lid) and remove the fruits inside without breaking or tearing the cup. Add namasu in the yuzu cup to serve.
Editor’s Note: The post was originally published on December 23, 2013. It’s been republished in December 2020.