Cooking with Chinese White Radish (Daikon)

Daikon radishes
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Known to many as white radish, the Japanese refer to it as daikon or daikon radish. This popular Asian vegetable bears little resemblance to small, round red radishes found in tossed green salads. Instead, Chinese white radish, or Raphanus Sativus to use its scientific name, resembles a large white carrot. While Japanese cooks rely on daikon's sharp bite to add flavor to relishes and salads, in China, it is used more in general cooking.

Chinese white radish is added to Chinese soups, stir-fries, and red-cooked dishes, where the food is slowly simmered in soy sauce. Turnip cake made with Chinese white radish is a traditional Chinese New Year dish. It is mild flavored and has fast growing leaves.

Where to Find Daikon

In addition to Asian recipes, feel free to use Chinese white radish whenever you're looking for a creative alternative to potatoes or turnips. Daikons are often pickled and make a unique appetizer. You'll be helping your family get more vitamin C and calcium in their diet. White radish is also an excellent source of potassium. If you can't find any daikon in your local grocery store, try an Asian market. You can also check the ethnic food aisle for pickled daikons.

Varieties of Daikon

Along with the common daikon radish, there are several other varieties found in South East Asia. The Chineselobak has a light green color around the top of the roots and leaves.

One variation native to Korea is called mu. Korean radishes tend to be smaller but sturdier. One-half is light green usually spreading down from the top. Lobak and Mu are both considered spicier than white radish. However if you're looking for a way to really impress your guest, get your hands on an heirloom watermelon radish.

This Chinese daikon has a dull green flesh with a bright red inside. It's a romanticised vegetable sometimes called the beauty heart or roseheart radish.

Agricultural Use

White radish isn't just useful in the kitchen; it also has agricultural uses. Farmers often rotate their potato crops with white radish because the taproot of the radish leaves a large hole in the soil as it decays, this allows the potato to bore deeper into the soil. Using this method farmers can actually boost their potato yield because the potatoes don't experience the usual growth restrictions. Radishes also retain a great deal of micro and macro-nutrients which help fertilize the soil.

Also Known As

You might see Chinese white radish also referred to as Daikon, white radish, winter radish, Lo Bak, Low Bak, or Chinese icicle radish. While some of these names also specify a specific variety of daikon, they are most often used to for the simple white radish.

White Radish Recipes

Looking for ideas on how to cook with Chinese white radish? Give these recipes a try.