Big Roots: Daikon Radishes and Leaves

If you’ve been shopping in Maido’s produce section, chances are you’ve seen a daikon radish. Resembling a large, white carrot, the daikon radish is a remarkably versatile staple in terms of Japanese cooking. Daikon radishes have a mild, ever-so slightly spicy taste combined with a crisp, watery texture when raw. They are usually ground, or thinly sliced into strips and paired with soy sauce when served in their uncooked state.

Cooked, daikon radish takes on the flavors of whatever its being prepared with, making it a perfect ingredient in simmered dishes like nabe and oden. Daikon radishes are also very easy to pickle, and can be preserved in a number of ways. One of the most popular daikon pickles is called Takuan, named after the buddhist monk who invented them. Takuan-zuke are bright yellow and have a sweet and very salty flavor, combined with a springy and crunchy texture making them an ideal component in vegan or vegetarian sushi.

In addition to having delicious roots, the leaves of the daikon plant are also edible. Daikon leaves have a slightly bitter, mildly spicy flavor somewhat similar to mustard greens. They are high in fiber and rich in micronutr