Description : The word Daikon actually comes from two Japanese words: dai (meaning large) and kon (meaning root). Daikon is is root vegetable said to have originated in the Mediterranean and brought to China for cultivation around 500 B.C. Roots are large, often 2 to 4 inches in diameter and 6 to 20 inches long. There are three distinct shapes - spherical, oblong and cylindrical.
Radishes have been developed in the Orient which develop very large roots, reportedly up to 20 kilograms, and with leaf top spreads of more than 60 centimeters (they require a long growing season for such development. These types are grown in the U.S., mainly by Asians for use in oriental dishes). Most of the commonly available Chinese radishes are white, but some are yellowish, green or black.
Storage : Chinese radishes will keep well in the refrigerator if they are placed in a sealed container or plastic bag in order to maintain high humidity.
Preparation : This is an extremely versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw in salads or cut into strips or chips for relish trays. It also can be stir-fried, grilled, baked, boiled or broiled. Use the daikon as you would a radish. It may be served raw in salads or grated for use as a condiment (if you don't have a Japanese-style grater, use a cheese grater and grate just before serving), pickled, or simmered in a soup. They are also preserved by salting as in making sauerkraut. Daikon also is used in soups and simmered dishes. To prepare, peel skin as you would a carrot and cut for whatever style your recipe idea calls for. Not only is the root eaten, but the leaves also are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and iron, so they are worth using instead of discarding.
A Japanese secret to cooking daikon is to use water in which rice has been washed or a bit of rice bran added (this keeps the daikon white and eliminates bitterness and sharpness}.
For Chips, Relish Tray Sticks or Stir Fries - Simply peel Daikon with a peeler and cut crossways for thin chips. Dip thin chips in ice water and they will crisp and curl for a Daikon chip platter with your favorite sour cream or yogurt dip. Cut into julienne strips for relish trays, salads or stir-frys.
Nutrition Information : Daikon is very low in calories. A 3 ounce serving contains only 18 calories and provides 34 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. Rich in vitamin C, daikon contains active enzymes that aid digestion, particularly of starchy foods. Select those that feel heavy and have lustrous skin and fresh leaves.
Overnight Chinese Daikon Radish Pickles
1 1/2 cups chopped daikon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
In a mixing bowl, toss daikon with salt. Cover, and refrigerate until 1 to 2 tablespoons of water is released, about 30 minutes.
Drain and rinse daikon, removing as much salt as possible. Pat dry with a paper towel, and return to bowl. Stir in rice vinegar, black pepper and, if desired, sesame oil. Cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours.
Sweet Pickled Daikon Radish
1 cup rice vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 500 grams daikon radish and 1/4 cup salt.
In a small saucepan over medium heat add the vinegar, water, sugar, and turmeric. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
Meanwhile, wash the daikon radish and slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds. (If your daikon is very large, slice the rounds into semicircles.) Place in a colander with salt and mix well. Place the colander over a bowl and let drain for 1 hour. Rinse the salt off with a couple of changes of water and dry the daikon well. Put into a sterilized glass jar. Pour the cooled brine through a coffee filter (or a cheesecloth lined strainer) into the jar to cover the radish slices. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. Will keep for about 2 weeks.