In the United States, the common red radish is typically just an afterthought in a salad, or a pretty garnish as part of a gourmet meal in a fancy restaurant. But a distant cousin known as the Daikon radish is enjoyed much more often in its native Japan, and in a large variety of culinary methods, too.
Those who consume the daikon radish often also benefit from its nutritional value and many healthy properties. This pleasant tasting vegetable is likely another reason that residents of Japan are some of the healthiest on the planet.
What exactly is the Daikon?
Known as a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, kale and cabbage, the daikon radish is said to have origins in the Mediterranean. After it spread to Asia, it became a highly valued ingredient. Appearing as a big root (in fact, daikon actually means “big root”), the flavor of the daikon is not quite as strong or peppery as the American red radish. It is crisp, and its texture is similar to an Asian pear. It can be eaten raw, or cooked using several different methods.
Health Benefits of the Daikon Radish
The daikon radish is one of those little known superfoods that appears most often as a garnish in sushi restaurants. But with very low calories/cholesterol and a high amount of fiber, it’s a shame to relegate it to just a garnish. Instead consider these health benefits and the many ways the radish can be enjoyed.
It is very high in Vitamin C, potassium, and phosphorus. Additionally, it contains several beneficial enzymes that aid in digestion as well as phytonutrients that help to fight against cancer.
Both the root and the seeds of the daikon radish are healthy. They help strengthening the immune system and cleansing the blood.
Ways to Cook and Enjoy It
Daikon can be cut into small strips and stir fried, boiled or eaten raw. When serving it raw, be sure to immerse it in water until you’re ready to serve it in order to prevent it from oxidizing. When eaten raw, the radish serves as a diuretic and a decongestant. You can even combine the seeds with ginger and honey to help with digestion.
- Many people in Japan make tea by mixing small pieces of daikon with shiitake mushrooms and seaweed (kombu). Then, drink it to reduce fever and fight infection.
- Another old natural remedy in Japan advises grating one tablespoon of daikon into a small amount of soy sauce. Consuming this will cleanse the system of excess fat and animal protein.
- And when you cook it with seaweed it makes a broth that removes dairy buildup.
Other ways to enjoy daikon radish include:
- Adding it to miso soups and stews, or mixing it with vegetables.
- Shredding it to add it to salads and other raw vegetable dishes, or to use as coleslaw.
- Slow cooking with other vegetables such as carrots, onions and garlic, along with vegetable broth and a protein, to make a delicious stew.
- It’s also one of the main ingredients of Daikon mochi, a traditional Japanese cake made by combining shredded daikon, rice flour, dried shrimp and various vegetables.
You’ll find this radish in nearly any Asian supermarket or grocery. Some regular supermarkets might also have this delicious and healthy vegetable available for you to enjoy!