Daikon is one of those veggies you may never have heard of until someone introduced it to you.
This superfood has been around for centuries and its popularity among vegans and vegetarians is growing.
If you’ve never had a bite of this vegetable before, now would be an excellent time to try it.
Daikon is versatile and easy to cook.
You can do so many different things with it!
What Is Daikon?
Daikon (also known as mooli) is a root vegetable native to Japan.
Its name comes from the Japanese word “daiku” which means “large.” In other words, daikon looks like something between a turnip and a white radish.
The roots are long, thin, and often yellow in color.
The plant itself grows up to 2 meters tall (6.5 feet), but the edible part is only about 1 meter long (3 feet).
The leaves on the plant look a bit like spinach and they grow in bunches called stalks.
Each stalk holds two leaves, which makes them look somewhat like bamboo.
You won’t find any seeds on the daikon plant, because it reproduces by sending out shoots through underground rhizomes.
There are no flowers, either.
Instead, daikons produce small fruit pods that contain black seeds.
These seeds germinate quickly once they hit water and sprout into little baby plants.
When you first cut open the pod, you will notice brown seeds inside.
When these are exposed to air, they will start to dry out and crack open.
Once they break apart, their seed coat falls off and exposes the soft, fluffy endosperm.
This is what we eat when we pick a daikon.
Like most vegetables, daikon needs plenty of sunlight to thrive.
If you live somewhere where winters are cold, then your chances of getting enough sun are slim.
That said, if you live somewhere in the tropics or subtropics, then you should have no problem finding suitable conditions.
Even if you don’t get much direct sunlight, you can still enjoy daikons since they grow well under artificial light.
In general, daikons prefer cool weather.
They tend to taste better when harvested in fall or winter than spring or summer.
So if you want to ensure you get fresh daikons throughout the year, make sure you choose varieties that mature later in the season.
What Are Some Common Recipes That Use Daikon?
Since daikon is a root vegetable, most people think about making pickles out of it.
But there are plenty of other ways to enjoy this plant-based staple.
- Sushi rolls – A great way to add flavor to sushi without adding extra calories.
- Vegetable tempura – Deep frying your favorite vegetables in a light batter gives them a crispy texture while retaining all their nutrients.
- Kimchi – The fermented Korean food is extremely popular because it contains probiotic bacteria which helps improve digestion.
- Pickled daikon – Pickling is another good technique for preserving foods, especially when they need to last longer than just a few days.
- Tofu scallion pancake – Tofu is often paired with sweet ingredients like honey, maple syrup, and even fruit juices. Here we pair tofu with the savory crunch of scallions.
- Raw green smoothie – Raw greens make for a healthy drink option. They also contain vitamins and minerals that help boost energy levels.
- Pancakes – With its crisp texture and nutty taste, pancakes are a delicious breakfast choice.
- Desserts – A little bit goes a long way with desserts, especially if you’re vegan.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Daikon?
Here are just a few reasons why you should eat daikon regularly:
- It helps your body absorb nutrients more efficiently because of its high fiber content
- Its strong flavor makes it good for picky eaters who don’t like spicy foods
- It’s rich in vitamins A and C, which help boost immunity and prevent scurvy (a disease caused by vitamin deficiency)
- It contains calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium, all essential minerals needed for healthy bones and teeth
- It is low in calories while providing plenty of nutrition
- It is often used as a garnish when making salads
- You can make daikon into a delicious soup
What Are Some Tips For Cooking With Daikon?
The first thing you should know about daikon is how long it takes to grow.
The vegetables usually take about two months from planting to harvest.
So if you want to eat your daikons in a timely manner, plant them early enough in the year.
You will also need good soil to grow these radishes.
They require full sun exposure and rich organic matter.
If you don’t have access to such natural ingredients, you can use composted manure instead.
When it comes to harvesting daikon, you need to cut off their greens at least six inches above ground level.
After that, they can be stored in the fridge for up to three weeks.
There are no special tricks for storing daikon like we have seen with other root vegetables.
Just keep them away from light and moisture and they will last longer than normal.
And finally, you must wash daikon thoroughly after cutting them because dirt will cause discoloration on the skin and reduce its nutritional value.
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Cooking With Daikon?
Like most vegetables, there are some basic rules to remember when preparing your own dishes.
One of the biggest pitfalls in making daikon recipes is not cutting them up correctly.
- When cutting daikon into pieces, don’t just chop off the ends.
- Cutting through the thick part will ensure that all the parts get evenly cooked.
- You should cut diagonally across the top instead of down through the middle. This way, you won’t lose any edible portion.
- It’s okay if it doesn’t look perfect – just take care of yourself first!
Another mistake people often make when cooking with daikon is not draining their water thoroughly enough after boiling it. If they don’t drain properly, the water remains inside the daikon causing it to become mushy and soggy.
As a general rule, always use a strainer or colander to strain your daikon water.
This prevents excess starch from being released while cooking and makes the daikon easier to digest.
Lastly, another thing to keep in mind when trying new recipes is to taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
Some recipes call for salt and others don’t. And then there are those who want more spice than others.
So, what are you supposed to do?
Taste each batch of food after cooking and see how much seasoning you think it needs.
How Can I Make Sure My Daikon Dish Turns Out Perfectly Every Time?
This is the million-dollar question we all ask ourselves from time to time.
In order to get your food right, there are certain steps you need to take in preparing it.
- Choose quality ingredients. The best way to ensure that everything comes together smoothly is to use good quality ingredients. If you want to create something delicious, then you must start off using high quality ingredients. For example, if you choose inferior meat products, they will not taste great. Likewise, choosing poor quality fish fillets will also turn out bad tasting dishes.
- Prepare them properly. Before putting anything into your mouth, make sure you know what you’re doing. That means knowing how much salt to add, how long to cook them, and how to prepare them correctly. There are many ways to prepare foods, but there is only one correct method.
- Keep track of measurements. When creating recipes, it is important to keep track of the amount of each ingredient you put in to see which ones work well together. You don’t want to overdo any of the ingredients because then you won’t end up having enough leftovers after eating.
- Don’t forget about timing. Your food shouldn’t just come out perfect on the first attempt. Make sure you pay attention to the process of cooking so that you can repeat it easily. Cooking should be enjoyable and exciting, especially if you are trying new dishes.
What Are Some Other Vegetables That Can Be Used In Place Of Daikon In A Recipe?
You might think that the only thing you can use daikon for is pickling.
That’s not true at all.
In fact, daikon adds flavor and texture to everything from salads to soups and even dessert recipes.
Here are just a few examples of how you can incorporate daikon into your everyday meals.
- Try adding fresh or dried daikon to stir-fry dishes like Chinese cabbage rolls or beef stew to give them more depth of flavor.
- Add shredded daikon root to any salad dressing you make (it gives salads a nice crunch).
- Make soup by sautéing diced daikon with garlic and onion, then add it to tomato soup.
- Dice up daikon and toss it on top of roasted chicken wings or salmon filets. The sweet tangy flavors will pair well with the savory meat.
- Serve sliced daikon as part of a sushi roll.
- Use chopped daikon in place of cucumber when making kimchi.
The possibilities really are endless, but here are some tips if you want to get started right away.
What Are Some Common Ways To Serve Daikon?
You don’t need much space to grow your own daikon plants if you live in a warm climate.
If you do not have the opportunity to grow them yourself, there are plenty of options available online.
These include fresh-cut daikons from local farmers markets or grocery stores, frozen daikons, dehydrated daikons, and even fermented daikons.
Some people also make their own pickled daikons by soaking them in salt water overnight.
Here are some more ideas on how you can use daikon.
- As a salad ingredient – toss sliced daikon in a bowl with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and pepper flakes. Serve immediately over greens like romaine lettuce or arugula.
- As part of a stir fry – sautee diced daikon in sesame oil, then add ginger, scallions, garlic, and soy sauce. Toss everything together and let it simmer until the daikon starts to soften.
- In soup – dice up daikon into small pieces and add to a pot of chicken stock. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Add chopped kale, spinach, carrots, and corn kernels. Bring the mixture back to the boil, reduce heat, and cover until all ingredients are wilted. Season with salt and pepper when done.
- As a snack – cut a piece off the seed pod and enjoy a little bit of crunchy flavor. The seeds inside will taste similar to sunflower seeds.
- On top of pizza – grate cubed daikon onto a pre-baked crust and drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 400℉ (200℃) for 10 minutes, flip over, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese.
What Are Some Interesting Facts About Daik
The word “daikon” comes from the Japanese words dai (large) and kōn (radish).
As such, it was originally known as dainagon in Japan.
When it reached North America during World War II, however, it became known by its English name — daikon.
In American English, it is often referred to as Chinese white cabbage.
The original spelling of the Asian name, dakon, is still used in parts of Asia.
However, it hasn’t caught on much outside of China and Korea.
In addition to being delicious, daikon is also good for your health. It contains vitamin C, potassium, fiber, B vitamins, copper, folate, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, calcium, and protein.
It’s important to note that while daikon is considered a root vegetable, it doesn’t taste like other types of roots. Instead, it resembles a turnip.
Here are some more fun facts about daikon:
- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average size of a mature daikon plant ranges between 30-50 inches tall.
- Daikon grows well in cool weather and can tolerate temperatures down to -15 degrees Fahrenheit (-5 degrees Celsius), though it will likely freeze at lower temps.
- The leaves of daikon plants are very long and thin, which helps them absorb sunlight and grow quickly.
- One pound of daikon typically yields four cups of cooked vegetables.
- A single daikon bulb can weigh up to 10 pounds (4.54 kg)
- Daikon bulbs can get quite large, sometimes over 100 pounds (45.4 kg)!
How to prepare daikon
Preparing daikon is relatively straightforward.
If you don’t want to peel the skin off the daikon, use a paring knife to cut out any blemishes or discoloration.
Then rinse the daikon thoroughly under running water.
Once the daikon is clean, slice into small pieces using either a mandoline slicer or sharp chef’s knife.
Don’t worry if there aren’t any perfect slices – just make sure the pieces are all roughly the same size.
Next, add enough cold water to cover the sliced daikon and let soak for 15 minutes.
Drain the daikon and repeat this step once again.
After draining the last batch, place the daikon in a medium pot filled with salted water.
Bring the water to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
Continue cooking the daikon for 20 minutes.
After twenty minutes, drain the daikon again and put it back in the pot.
Add 1 tablespoon each of rice wine vinegar and sugar.
Stir together until the sugar dissolves completely.
Continue stirring occasionally until the daikon starts to soften.
Once softened, remove the daikon from the pot and set aside to cool slightly.
Serve warm or chilled.
For the salad:
- 1/2 daikon radish
- sesame seeds
- cherry tomatoes
- katsuobushi dried bonito flakes
- nori seaweed
For the dressing
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2-1 tsp sugar
- Get the dressing ready: Stir well in a bowl 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tbsp sesame oil, and 1/2 to 1 tsp sugar. Place aside.
- Daikon should be cut: The 1/2 daikon should be peeled and cut into thin strips. To make it crisp, let it soak in ice water for a time. Drain thoroughly and squeeze off any extra moisture.
- Daikon and dressing should be combined: Serve on a dish with more vegetables like cucumber, rocket, carrots, and tomatoes.
- Prepare and eat: Sesame seeds should be added to the salad. Enjoy.