Versatility certainly sums up daikon. According to Wikipedia daikon can be prepared and eaten in many different ways; shredded, grated, dried, and with sushi, just to name a few. Not mention, it’s believed that Buddhist monks once pickled daikon to help preserve it through the winter. For more on that, let’s check out daikon’s Wikipedia page:
Shredded and dried daikon is called kiriboshi daikon, literally cut-and-dried daikon. Pickled whole daikon, called takuan in Japanese and danmuji in Korean, often takes a bright yellow color. Takuan is used in sushi and as a garnish for white rice. It is claimed, but not historically supported, that a Buddhist monk called Takuan Soho first made this pickled daikon to preserve vegetables for the long winter.Now you won’t find that kind of versatility with baloney! Maybe that’s why daikon in Japanese means “great root.” But as Bill Daley of The Chicago Tribune points out, some people want to call it “wonder root” as well. Why? Well, it’s believed that daikon also has some medicinal properties. Bill Daley explains:
Fresh leaves of daikon can also be eaten as a leaf vegetable but they are often removed when sold in a store because they do not adjust well to the refrigerator, yellowing quite easily. Daikon sprouts, known as kaiware, are a popular garnish for salads and sushi.
For not only is daikon a natural digestive rich in vitamins A, C and E, but the root is a "marvelous" natural remedy for a hangover. "A cupful of grated daikon should do the trick," writes Barber in "Japanese Light."So, what does daikon look like? To be honest it kind of looks like a big white carrot. Here’s some fresh picked daikon courtesy of Bookish Gardener, take a peek:
Daikon is refreshingly crisp with a slight peppery kick.
One of the most common ingredients in Japanese cooking, daikon is most frequently used finely grated, according to the classic, just re-released book by Shizuo Tsuji, "Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art." So ubiquitous is the grated root that there are even special daikon graters.
Given that daikon is thought to aid digestion of oily foods, it is no surprise that it often is found in the dipping sauce used with tempura and other fried foods.
Now, I’m not exactly sure which type of daikon it is because if you check EverGreenSeeds.com, you’ll see that there are well over a dozen different varieties of white oriental radishes. Some have a green neck, others are better for pickling, and while the rest are just pretty basic. Take these for example:
Daikon Radish, Miyashige Green NeckAlright then, let’s not forgot the most important question of all? How does daikon stack up nutrition-wise? Sure, it looks promising and sounds tasty, but how good for us is it? Unfortunately, it’s not exactly a nutritional heavy weight. I found these produce Nutrition Facts on Whole Foods’ website. Look how daikon compares to kale and fellow strange veggie kohlrabi:
Long and large Daikon with green neck and white flesh.
Oriental Radish, Hybrid April Cross
Pure white and straight shape radish. Excellent quality.
Daikon, Hybrid Minowase Summer Cross
Excellent quality Daikon radish for cooking, pickling and salad.
Personally, this won't discourage me. As many of you know, there are a lot worse nutrient-low foods you can eat. Now, as I mentioned in last week’s Eating to Live on the Outside: Health in a Hurry I’ve never tried daikon, but, now that I know a little more about it, I’m a man on a mission. In the words of Blue Oyster Cult, daikon, “I’m burning-I’m burning for you.”
And remember, strange veggies and freaky fruits are everywhere—keep your eyes peeled, you never know when one might come out of the woodwork.