Daikon radish

Daikon radish

Daikon radish is well known around the world. I wonder how much you know about daikon radish.

Daikon is used for a variety of dishes such as salads, pickles, simmered dishes, and soups. Do you know that the taste and texture are different depending on the parts?

Daikon is written 大根 in Japanese. 大 (dai) means “big” and 根 (kon) means “root”. So it’s literally “Big root”.
Daikon is available all year around. The best season for it is winter when it’s sweetest and the most delicious.

Nutrition and benefits

Daikon radish is well known as a nutrient vegetable.

The leaves have abundant vitamins and minerals such as beta carotene, vitamin C, iodine, potassium, calcium.

The root is 95% moisture and has many types of enzymes, amylase which resolves carbohydrates, lipase which resolves fat, and protease which resolves protein. These enzymes help your digestion. So daikon radish is a good food when you suffer from indigestion.
It’s more effective to eat raw daikon radish since those enzymes have a weaker effect at high temperatures. Daikon also has an enzyme called oxidase. It’s believed to help prevent cancer.

Although we usually throw the skin away, it’s more nutritional than inside the root.

What kind of daikon should we choose?

A daikon radish with green leaves is the best. It’s definitely fresh. However, even in Japan, daikon radish is usually sold without leaves. Even after it’s harvested, the root (the while part) continues bringing the nutrients to the leaves. So it’s important to cut off the leaves to preserve the flavor of the root.

Straight daikon is good. Daikon can’t grow straight if there are obstacles such as stones, rocks or other roots in the soil. When the farmer does a good job taking care of the soil, the daikon grows stress-free.

If the weight of the daikon radish is lighter than it looks, it probably has small holes on the inside. Make sure the daikon radish is firm.

Characteristics of each part of daikon radish

Daikon radish can be divided into 4 parts including leaves, and each part has a different flavor and usage. Using the proper part is one of the keys to making delicious daikon dishes.

Leaves

Daikon leaves are tough, bitter and fibrous. It’s hard to eat raw. However, they are very nutritious and the bitter taste goes well with sesame oil when it’s stir-fried. Actually, all of my family love it! I’m going to add the link of our favorite dishes using daikon leaves here when I post the recipe on my blog.

The top part

The part near the leaves is the hardest and the sweetest. It’s good for eating raw to enjoy the mildly sweet flavor and the crunchy texture. I recommend that you make salads or sweet pickles using this part. It’s also good for making grated daikon called 大根おろし (daikon oroshi). Daikon oroshi is often used for garnishing many kinds of dishes such as tempura, grilled fish and steaks.
Here are some of the dishes using this part.

The middle part

The middle part is well-balanced between sweetness and spiciness. It can be used for any daikon dishes, it’s especially good for simmered dishes.
I strongly believe simmering the daikon is the best way of eating it to enjoy the flavor!
Each time I post a new recipe using the middle part, I’ll add it here!

The bottom part

The bottom part is the firmest, spiciest, and has the least moisture among the rest of the daikon radish. This part goes well with thick flavored dishes, such as miso soup and salty pickles. However, some people like grated daikon using this part, and they enjoy the spicy taste but I personally can’t handle it.
Each time I post a new recipe using the bottom part I’ll add it here!

Thank you for reading my blog! I introduced the nutrition of radish and the characteristics of each part. So now, you well know about daikon! I hope you’ll enjoy making daikon dishes!

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