The word daikon, pronounced DI-cone, comes from two Japanese words: dai (large) and kon (root). Its origin has been traced to the Mediterranean, although it is considered a staple in Asian cuisines. These root vegetables are often 2 to 4 inches in diameter and 6 to 20 inches in length. Many varieties of this vegetable are grown, depending on the region. Commercially grown daikon radishes are found in markets, usually in bunches of three or four roots. Consider the many ways to prepare daikon radish that are both full of health-giving properties and delicious.
Choose radishes that are pure white, firm and heavy. Look for radishes that are free of cracks, bruises or sprouts. The green, leafy tops should be crisp and fresh. Use the daikon like any other radish in recipes. Scrub thoroughly under running water. Peel the skin using a vegetable peeler. Cut the size and style appropriate for the dish you are preparing.
Make a salad or relish plate. Raw daikon radishes are delicious in salads or on relish trays. Cut the radish in thin slices. Put the thin chips in ice water. They will crisp up and curl. Remove them from the water and dry before placing on the plate or in the salad. They are a complement to any dip or dressing. Create a salad using grated daikon and carrot, season with rice vinegar, soy sauce, lemon, tahini and balsamic vinegar. Add some beans, cabbage, cucumbers, herbs, rice or nuts. Use your imagination.
Stir-fry daikon radishes and the leafy greens in a small amount of ghee or olive oil with other vegetables such as zucchini, fennel and carrots, using a small amount of water and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with a grain or rice. Ghee is a form of cooking oil made by cooking butter to remove all milk solids and water. What remains is pure golden oil with a rich flavour and aroma. It can be used for all types of cooking or baking and is sometimes used as a spread.
Grill, steam, boil or broil large slices of daikon radishes with other vegetables such as napa cabbage, spring onions and shiitake mushrooms. Add some beans. Drizzle with ghee or olive oil before serving. A shorter cooking time will preserve flavour and nutrients. Bake large slices of daikon radishes. Sprinkle with cumin, cilantro or curry for a delicious side dish.
Simmer in soup. Daikon radishes are flavourful additions to soups. Because they are a root vegetable, they are the perfect choice as an ingredient in fall soups. Add them to soups containing rice or potatoes. They give wonderful taste to miso soup. Include them in stews. The possibilities are endless.
Daikon radish leaves are also edible. They are rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, very low in calories and very high in water content. Using water in which rice has been washed or a small amount of rice bran has been added keeps the daikon white and eliminates bitterness and sharpness. Daikon radishes will keep well in the refrigerator. Place them in a sealed container or plastic bag to ensure high humidity.