The first time I saw daikon radishes at the farmer’s market I thought they were giant parsnips. I snapped up several, amazed at how inexpensive they were. What a surprise when I got home and realized I had purchased four radishes the size of my forearms!
Daikon radish is a versatile, inexpensive, low-calorie ingredient that is popular in Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, and other Asian cuisines. It can also be substituted for plain red radishes in almost any dish. One of the most popular among daikon preparations is pickled, either in kimchi or refrigerator pickles:
- Sweet Pickled Daikon Radishes (Tyler Florence)
- Daikon and Carrot Pickles (Amanda Nguyen/NY Times)
- Daikon Radish Kimchi (Taekyung Chung, Debra Samuels)
There are also several great recipes for warm radishes out there. When cooked, Daikon loses its crunch and forward flavor and softens into a mild complement for other ingredients.
- Braised Pork Mince with Daikon (Droolfactor)
- Law Bok Gow (Daikon Radish Cakes) (Yohana Gourmet)
- Cantonese Braised Beef and Daikon (Cookbook Chronicles)
My favorite recipe for daikon radish is this creamy radish dip. Although it’s a significant step up over packaged ranch, this spicy white dip is about as accessible as the giant root gets. It makes for a wonderful introduction to daikon radish for kids or picky eaters. Plus, if you’re scrambling for an easy, last-minute potluck offering, this is your recipe! It has just four ingredients, and takes minutes to put together. If you don’t have daikon on hand, a bunch of red or black radishes work well in this recipe, too. Just know that the resulting dip will be pink or gray, according to the color of the radish skin.
Daikon Radish Dip (yields about 1.5 cups)
1 large daikon radish
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves peeled garlic
8 ounce package cream cheese
Peel garlic, and combine with cream cheese and salt in a food processor. Wash and dry the radish. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin plus any root hairs. Cut a five-inch section of the radish, discarding the top and end of the vegetable. Chop that section into inch-long pieces and add those to the food processor bowl. Pulse in the food processor until dip has a creamy texture with no big pieces of radish. For best results, chill finished dip in the fridge overnight. This firms up the texture of the dip and keeps it from getting watery. Serve with crudite or use as a sandwich spread with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.