I’ve heard from a few people that they’ve no idea what to do with the daikon radishes in this week’s feedbag, so here is Arwen’s handy how-to tips for daikon radish.

Daikon radish

You’ve all probably eaten daikon radish, unless you have a loathing for Japanese food – the grated strands of white stuff you get with sushi or sashimi is just grated daikon. It’s basically a very large, mild radish. Daikon is tasty sliced in salads, or you can cook it in stews as you would turnips. They do well with slow braising. Or you can slice it into thin rounds or semi-circles and quickly stir-fry it with other vegies.

Chinese turnip cake, a popular yumcha dish, can also be made with daikon.  JustHungry, one of my favourite Japanese food blogs, has a recipe for vegan turnip cake, but I haven’t actually cooked it for myself.

Maki, writer of JustHungry also points out you can dry daikon radish. She says to shred it into long thin shreds and put it in a basket in the sun for a few days. I don’t have a grater capable of doing long shreds, so I’ve sliced my radish as finely as possible, and it’s currently sitting in my front window on the lid of my bamboo steamer. Here’s hoping we actually get some dry weather for a few days!

Drying daikon

Drying daikon slices on my windowsill

Another easy use for daikon is Japanese style pickles, which are served alongside main course dishes. I pulled out my copy of  Easy Japanese Pickling (yes, I really do own a Japanese pickle cookbook), and ended up trying two different versions of daikon pickles.

Oolong tea daikon pickles

The recipe actually asked for Japanese green tea, or sencha tea, but I don’t actually have any, and I thought that the slight bitterness of daikon would actually go better with the earthy taste of oolong anyway, so I substituted.

Ingredients

1 tsp oolong tea

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 daikon radish, cut into matchsticks

Method

Add all ingredients to a small ziplock bag (you can use a normal plastic bag if you have to). Squeeze out the air and seal the bag, then squoosh gently with your hands until the daikon starts to look wet. Put aside for about an hour, then serve.

Oolong tea daikon pickles

Finished pickles - next time, I rinse the tea in boiling water to bring out the flavour more

Next time, I’ll pour some boiling water over the tea first, then drain it off quickly – I found the finished pickles didn’t have much of a tea taste. I’ll also use less salt – I’ve already adjusted the recipe here down, but it may need to drop to 1/4 teaspoon instead. Still, the pickles have a nice bite to them from the chilli.

Soy sauce daikon pickles

Kombu is dried kelp – the Japanese use it frequently as a flavouring, and to add umami. If you don’t have any, you should be able to skip it without losing much. Similarly, if you don’t have mirin, Japanese sweet cooking wine, you can substitute ½ teaspoon of sugar.

Ingredients

1/3 daikon radish, cut in half, then into segments, and scored lightly across the top

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin

About 10cm of kombu, cut into little pieces with kitchen scissors

Method

Add the kombu (if using) to the soy and mirin, and set it aside while you slice the daikon. Then put your daikon gently into a ziplock bag, and add the kombu and marinade. Seal, and set aside for about an hour before serving.

Soy sauce daikon radish pickles

Finished soy sauce pickles. I sliced my pickle pieces into smaller chunks - they're quite tasty

If you’re really stuck for things to do with daikon (other than take it to the movies or invite it home to meet the parents), you can also grate it and add it to kimchi, Korean chilli pickled cabbage. This is made from wombok, Chinese cabbage, which we also got in this week’s box, and is surprisingly easy to make. I’ll be posting a recipe for that in a few days, so make sure to check back. I’m also planning on using my last daikon to make Japanese slow-cooked daikon with miso in a few days, so stay tuned for that as well.

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