Daikon is a white root vegetable often seen in Japanese and Chinese cuisine that resembles a carrot. However, unlike a carrot's sweetness, daikon is spicy and tart, similar to a radish. Its pungent and sharp flavor can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. The white pigment in daikon is called anthoxanthin, which is an antioxidant that may lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In Asian cuisine, daikon is often eaten alongside meaty dishes, and is said to aid in digestion and breakdown of oil, fatty animal protein, and dairy. Cooked daikon has a similar texture and flavor to turnips. Daikon is in season during the cold weather months, so if you've picked some up recently here's a quick and simple sauté preparation.
Until I walked past a bin of them on my last trip to the Chinese market, I'd completely forgotten about daikon radishes. The long, white vegetable, which looks like an oversize carrot, isn't that prevalent at Western markets, but is a staple in Asian cuisines. Although the milky-fleshed daikon can be found year-round at some grocery stores, the vegetables are sweetest and mildest during the cold weather months.
If possible, shop for them at an Asian supermarket, where they're likely to be fresh, as they may grow bitter with age. Store them in a cool, dry place, where they'll keep for several weeks. If you're new to cooking with radishes, the concept may seem daunting, but this peppery giant is surprisingly versatile. To learn a few ways to enjoy it, read more
An East Asian variety of Winter radish, the large, white daikon is mild in flavor and crisp in texture. Its root can be eaten raw, pickled, finely grated over other foods, stir-fried, or simmered in stews. The thicker top end of the root is sweet, and the bottom part of the root is more pungent, making it better suited for cooking. The vegetable's leafy tops can be stir-fried or used in soups or salads.
On last week's Top Chef, Eugene struggled with his warm interpretation of daikon.