Essentials of the Japanese Kitchen

Cooking with Daikon

大根

 

Daikon (lit. big root) is a large, white, winter radish, also known as mooli. This popular vegetable is well liked for its versatility and is used in a wide variety of Japanese dishes. Daikon is grown throughout Japan, with areas of the Kantō region, including Itabashi, Nerima, Urawa and the Miura Peninsula, being the largest producers.

Daikon is one of chef Shimizu Akira’s favourite vegetables in Japanese cuisine. At AKIRA it is prepared in a variety of ways: stewed with Wagyū beef in a salty sauce for the bento box, served raw, as takuan (yellow pickled daikon) in the restaurant’s toro-taku (tuna and takuan) rolls, and as an appetizer.

Watch the video and read on to learn Akira’s recipe for one of his favourite daikon dishes: daikon kinpira.

Daikon in Japanese Cuisine  

Daikon is an incredibly versatile vegetable and its texture and taste change depending on how it is cut.

It is a popular garnish for sashimi; simply cut the daikon into thin strips and soak in water to make it crispy and bring out its refreshing, spicy flavour. Alternatively, it can be sliced and eaten as sashimi itself.

Daikon can also be grilled, stewed, used as a condiment when grated into daikon-oroshi, dried (kiriboshi-daikon) and pickled in a variety of ways. The most popular daikon pickles are takuan (yellow pickled radish), asazuke (light pickle in brine) and nukazuke (rice bran pickle).

Many ingredients complement daikon, such as soy sauce, as used in oden or daikon-oroshi, miso, as used in miso soup, salt, vinegar, and a wide range of dressings.

Popular Japanese dishes that feature this type of radish include stewed pork with daikon, squid and daikon, sweet and spicy stir-fry, daikon salad, daikon kinpira, pickles, ohitashi boiled greens, miso soup and kakiage (tempura) fritters.

Daikon Kinpira Recipe 

Ingredients:

  • ½ daikon
  • 2 sheets abura-age (deep-fried tofu)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sake
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 30ml soy sauce
  • A pinch of red chilli

 

Cut the daikon and abura-age into similarly sized strips.

Add sesame oil to a hot frying pan and fry the daikon. Once it has turned translucent, add the abura-age.

To make the sauce, combine the cooking sake, sugar and soy sauce. Then, add to the pan and fry everything together until well mixed. Finally, add the red chilli.

According to Akira, daikon kinpira is best served on top of freshly cooked rice. Watch the episode ‘Cooking Japanese Rice’ in the ‘Essentials of the Japanese Kitchen’ series to find out Akira’s tips for cooking Japanese rice perfectly.

Daikon kinpira keeps well, so Akira recommends making a large batch and storing it in the fridge.

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