Come in yellow thick strips, takuan (沢庵), also known as takuwan or takuan-zuke, is a popular traditional Japanese pickle. Made from daikon radish, these yellow pickles are often served together with other types of tsukemono (Japanese-style pickles) in traditional Japanese cuisine. As it is believed to aid in digestion, takuan is also served in bento or at the end of meals.
Takuan is also popular also in South Korea. It is called danmuji (단무지) in Korean and you can find them being used as a filling for Korean-style sushi, gimbap, or as an accompaniment to other rice or noodle dishes.
Before eating, you want to rinse off the excess brine from takuan. You can slice it thinly and serve as a side dish to enjoy with your steamed rice and other dishes. The older, pungent takuan is sometimes added to stir-fries or braised dishes as it adds a sour note to the dish.
Sweet, salty, slightly tart and crunchy, takuan also makes a delicious addition to vegetarian/ vegan sushi.
How is Takuan being Made?
Traditionally takuan is usually made once a year where daikon radishes are hung to sun-dried for a few weeks until they become dehydrated and flexible. The fermenting process allows the flavor of daikon to concentrate before they are mixed with of salt, kombu, rice bran, and sometimes flowers and left to pickle for months which result in the bright yellow color pickles.
Nowadays the mass-produced takuan often includes food coloring to achieve the yellow effect.
Where to Find Takuan?
You can find takuan being sold at Japanese, Korean or Asian grocery stores. Otherwise, you can also make your own quick version of takuan by pickling daikon radish with salt, sugar, water, and a pinch of turmeric for the golden yellow hue.