What Is Daikon and How Can I Use It?
If you're into Japanese cuisine, you've probably come across a daikon or two without knowing it. Common in traditional Japanese food and other Asian cuisines, this white, crunchy root vegetable can brighten up meals, adding texture and sweet flavor to dishes and condiments. Cubed, grated or sliced, it adds bite and character, but you may not recognize it in its full form.
What Is Daikon?
Daikon (sometimes called Oriental radish winter radish) is a root vegetable similar in shape to a large carrot with a flavor that's similar to a mild red radish. It's grown in many Asian countries, and in Japan, it's the most commonly eaten vegetable.
Daikon vs. Radish
Daikon and radishes are from the same family, but there are a few differences. The red radishes we slice and toss into salads are much smaller and sharper in flavor than the radishes used in Japanese cuisine. Red radishes are peppery whereas the white radish is mild and slightly sweet.
There is also mu, which is the Korean radish. The Korean radish is a type of daikon radish. It's very similar to the long white Japanese radish, but it's shaped more like a potato. There is also the watermelon radish, which is a variety of Chinese radish. It has the same texture and crunch as Japanese and red radishes but is green on the outside, pink on the inside and has a mellower flavor.
Daikon has a decent amount of nutrients. Contrary to popular belief, it's not high in fiber but daikon is high in potassium–per 1 cup, it contains 263 milligrams of potassium (about 75% of the amount in a banana) and 25.5 milligrams of vitamin C (about half the amount of an orange). It also contains smaller amounts of folate, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
Cooking with Daikon
There are many ways to serve white radishes—cooked or raw. Raw daikon works really well in salads and slaws, as a side dish for summer picnics or thinly sliced and pickled for sandwiches that need a pick-me-up (a classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich is typically topped with pickled carrots and daikon, for example). It's also great in stir-fries cooked with meat—cooking radishes yields soft, starchy chunks similar to potatoes. EatingWell has several recipes to try with daikon and if you're feeling adventurous, you can swap out regular radishes for the Japanese root.