What is Japanese Turnip?
Japanese Turnips (kabu かぶ in Japanese), or sometimes called Tokyo Turnips, are pastel white variety of turnip. They have a mild, fresh taste, with hints of nutty, sweet, earthy flavors. These mini globe-shaped turnips can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. When cooked, Tokyo turnips are tender, buttery, slightly spicy and taste like a cross between a radish and a turnip. Aside from the roots, the bright green tops are edible and can be prepared just like any other greens.
How to Prepare and Cook with Japanese Turnips?
Just like many root vegetables, Tokyo Turnips are incredibly versatile. You can slice them into a thin disc and toss in fresh salads, or add them to soups, or steam or roast them with other vegetables/meat, or add them into stir-fries. In Japan, Tokyo turnips are commonly enjoyed in pickles and in miso soup. With their mild and juicy flavor, they make a delicious side dish to meat dishes like roast fish and savory grilled meat or with any vegetarian meal. Same goes with the turnip greens, you can literally enjoy them in endless preparations just like any greens. They are tender, sweet, a little spicy and delicious!
To retain the crisp texture, you want to avoid overcooking both the roots and the greens. One of our family’s favorite recipe with turnips with soboro ankake sauce
Where to find Japanese Turnips
Tokyo Turnips are becoming popular with local growers in the US in recent years, so you can definitely look out for them at your local farmer’s markets or co-ops. Whole Foods or other contemporary grocery stores may also carry these turnips as well.
Depending on the variety, you can find Tokyo turnip in spring or late summer/early fall. If you have a garden, you can try growing them in your own backyard too.
Buying and Storing Japanese Turnips
When buying Tokyo turnips, look for those with smooth white skins and without blemishes. They should also feel firm to touch. When storing properly, they can be kept well for a longer time in the refrigerator. They store better when you remove the leaves from the root. You can keep the roots and the greens in separate plastic bags or containers or moist cloth bags in the crisper drawer.
Tokyo Turnip Recipes
Here are just some of the delicious recipes you can enjoy with Tokyo turnips:
Pickled Turnip with Yuzu