Using Daikon Radishes

Explains what a Daikon radish is, why it is popular, and how it is commonly used in cooking.

The Daikon radish, also called the Chinese radish, is a popular Asian vegetable. It is a root that looks similar to a carrot except that it is typically white in color and large in size. For example, a Daikon radish is sized from approximately 5-20 inches in length and 2-4 inches in width. While most Daikon radishes are white, there are also some varieties that appear as yellow or black. They can be eaten raw; however, they have a hotter flavor than red radishes so be aware of this when using them in this manner. Daikon radishes can be added to salads or to relishes, and are also commonly used in stir-fries.

Daikon radishes are grown in Japan and also in the United States in Texas and California. They are available year round in many supermarkets as well as in Asian specialty stores. When selecting a Daikon radish, make sure that the roots do not have any bruises on them and that they are firm to the touch. When storing Daikon radishes at home, place them in a plastic container or bag and put them in your refrigerator. This will ensure that the roots stay moist, which is important to preserve their freshness.

Although Daikon radishes can be eaten raw, in Japan, where they have been cultivated for many years, they are served either pickled or preserved. They are also fried here, as with tempura. Additionally, the Daikon radish is one of the ingredients used in "Oden", which is a popular Japanese stew traditionally served in the Winter. In Oden, Daikon radishes are combined with boiled eggs, fish, and other items in a kelp-based stock. Daikon radishes are also popularly served in sushi bars throughout Japan and in other countries' sushi bars as well.

One of the benefits to using Daikon radishes in recipes is its nutritional value. An adult serving, containing approximately 3 ounces, is only 19 calories. Additionally, Daikon radishes provide a good source of vitamin C. They are great for dieters who can eat them raw in salads or, who can sauté them in a light broth to eat as a side dish or main meal.

Another interesting feature associated with Daikon radishes is that when they are grown in a garden among cucumbers and squash, they will repel certain beetles from attacking these vegetables. When planted alongside tomatoes, they will repel mites. You can also plant Daikon radishes near onions and cabbages if you want to repel root maggots from these vegetables. In this case, however, you will not be able to harvest the Daikon radishes for eating or cooking purposes because the root maggots will be drawn to the radishes instead of the onions and cabbages and will consume them.

Because the Daikon radish can be used as you would other radishes, it is cooked in a variety of ways. You can stuff it, bake it with cheese, or sauté it in oil. These and other options allow the Daikon radish a place among many households that appreciate the value of this diverse root vegetable.

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