Unique Food: Daikon
Daikon, also sometimes referred to as white radish, is a large root vegetable that originated in the Mediterranean and was brought to China for cultivation around 500 BC. Its culinary applications may surprise you!
It is reported that some of these radishes grow extraordinarily large roots, weighing up to 40 or 50 pounds with a leafy top that spreads out over two feet. Whoa!
Most Common Culinary Uses
Like other radishes and root veggies, daikon is very versatile. It can be eaten raw, tossed into salads or cut into strips or diagonal slices for vegetable trays. Daikon is a great, unique alternative for crudités to be dipped into any favorite dip such as hummus, baba ganoush, bean dip, avocado dip or relishes and salsas.
When cooked, many like to stir fry, grill, bake, boil or broil their daikon. It can essentially be used in any recipe that would otherwise call for any other radish. Daikon can also be pickled like cucumbers, beets, cauliflower, or carrots or simmered it in savory soup. Some even use it in place of potato! (see Daikon Au Gratin recipe below)
To prepare daikon, peel it like you would a carrot and prepare in whichever way appeals to you.
Daikon is a crucifer vegetable like turnip, broccoli, kale, cabbage, arugula, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. These low calorie veggies have powerful antioxidants with well documented anti-cancer properties with the one caveat being that the anti-cancer compounds in cruciferous veggies are very sensitive to both heat and water. To get the greatest benefit from daikon and other cruciferous vegetables, it’s advisable to eat several servings of crucifer vegetables per week that are raw, prepared with little water or cooked with very short cooking times using methods such as steaming, sautéing or stir frying. It’s easy to include a few servings of raw daikon in salads, with dips, or on it’s own.
• The word daikon comes from two Japanese words: dai (meaning large) and kon (meaning root).
• It can be pronounced as DI-kuhn or DI-cone
• The roots are typically 2 to 4 inches in diameter, and 6 to 20 inches long.
• There are three distinct shapes of daikon: spherical, oblong and cylindrical
• These radish are typically white, not unlike the more common radish eaten in North America, but some daikon are yellowish, green or black
• The green leafy part of daikon that grows above the ground can be cooked and eaten like collard greens; they rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and iron
Check out a few delicious daikon recipes we found!
Doug Cook is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist and a Certified Diabetes Educator. He practices a holistic and integrative approach providing science-based guidance on food and diet along with nutritional supplements and natural health products where appropriate. He is regularly called upon by the media to help make sense of the latest nutrition and food issues and other hot topics making the news. He writes a popular newspaper column where he deconstructs the manufacturers’ marketing angle, nutritional and health claims of various food products. He also co-authored Nutrition for Canadians for Dummies (Wiley 2008).