Daikon Radishes: What to Do with Your Purple Roots

May 16, 2023 | Uncategorized

If you’re new to eating hyper-local, seasonal produce, purple daikon radishes may be a new-to-you crop. The new-to-you genre of vegetables is part of what makes eating local food an adventure, and purple daikon (like garlic chives and maybe fennel) often fall into this category of “what exactly should I do with this?

Maybe you’re still at the beginning of your relationship with daikon… you unpack your Co-op share, are relieved to see carrots and excited to find lettuce, and then you hit the daikon. Sure, it’s beautiful and purple… splashes of magic in an otherwise green bounty, but what is there to do with daikon besides marvel at the hue? For many corners of the world (like Japan, where daikon is the most-consumed vegetable), daikon radishes are as familiar as the cardinals crowding your feeder. Maybe you already know this root, possessing an intimate cultural understanding of how, and when, to integrate the vegetable into your cooking.

Or maybe you’re asking yourself, “What should I do with daikon?”.

The answer? Quite a lot.

Like all radishes, daikon are a member of the Brassicaceae family. Oblong daikon radishes – purple, white, green, and all the shades in between – are well suited to Central Texas. Some farmers (and ranchers) even use daikon as a cover crop. The strong and deep tap roots help loosen compacted soil and act as a living mulch. (Do you have some bare dirt in your garden? Throw out a handful of daikon seeds and see what happens.) Daikon radishes grow easily, especially in sandy soils, and make EXCELLENT storage crops. Meaning: if you harvest daikon, remove the green tops, and the roots can last for a good while in proper cold-storage conditions.

Unlike spicy red radishes, daikon is milder and slightly sweet. Like a carrot, you can eat daikon cooked or raw. In addition to their culinary uses, purple daikon radishes are also prized for their potential health benefits. They are a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants, and may have anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting properties.

Without any more dally, 10 daikon recipes.

Central Texas Purple Daikon. Photo by VRDNT Farm.

1. Boiled Daikon

One of the easier dishes to make on this list. Tossed at the end with sesame oil, boiled daikon makes a fuss-free side dish. Oh, and if you’re not in the habit of sometimes using boiling water to cook your produce, might I recommend this Tamar Adler’s bit on boiling from her beloved cookbook, An Everlasting Meal. Inviting the simple act of boiling into your kitchen will create some ease in the seasonal cooking work flow. We promise.

2. Korean Style Quick Pickled Radish

We don’t often watch an entire recipe video, but the cool guitar and easy-as-could-be quick pickle in this recipe video has us hooked. Do yourself a favor and make this quick-daikon-pickle. And if you’re familiar with the yellow-version of pickled daikon, Takuan in Japanese, or Danmuji in Korean, here is a recipe for that.

3. Radish and Potato Gratin

A dense and mild root, dare we suggest you make gratin of daikon, only. Still on the hunt for more daikon dishes? Think like a potato, and go from there. It makes an easy substitute in many instances.

4. Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

Pretty much your entire Co-op produce bag could be used for this recipe.

5. Spiralized Daikon “Rice Noodle” Bowl

Recipes like this are a great illustration of how chopping -nay, spiralizing- a vegetable in a different way can yield a new-to-you way to use the vegetable. Recipes like this are why a spiralizer and mandoline made our list of must-have CSA kitchen tools.

6. Hawaiin Pickled Beet Salad (w/ daikon)

“Recipes like this reflect the influence of Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii to work on the sugar plantations in the 1800s. Recipe adapted from Chef Greg Harrison, Pacific’O Restaurant.” Local been availability has slowed, but HEB should be well-stocked if you want to make this recipe exactly.

7. Daikon Kimchi

Making kimchi requires a longer ingredients list than just a quick pickle, but the results are well worth the effort and an extra trip to your favorite Asian market.

8. Purple Daikon Chips

Spade and Plow, the farm that published this recipe, knows what’s up. (One of the head growers farmed in Central Texas for many seasons before moving home to California). High heat and a thin crunch (mandoline is perfect here) = delightful chip. Need a dip? Might we recommend this sizzled scallion and labneh dip, which is good on any vegetable.

9. Braised Daikon or Daikon No Nimono

Did anyone else watch the latest season of Top Chef? Like so many, we fell in love with Chef Shota Nakajima and was delighted to learn more about the subtleties of Japanese flavors and techniques with him as captain. (His Instagram is an awesome one to follow for recipe and border collie inspo!) In one episode, Shota braised daikon which, on tv, ended up looking like succulent scallops. Here is a recipe based on Shota’s version, specifically.

10. Daikon Oroshi

We saved my favorite “recipe” for last. Daikon Oroshi is a Japanese dish that is simply, finely grated daikon that is stored in some of its juices. The result acts as a condiment and tiny spoonfuls are perfect to top and accompany just about any dish from udon noodles to fried fish. If you’re unsure of what to do with your daikon, take a note from this use-case and simply grate the daikon and serve raw, alongside… anything you cook.

No excuses to let your daikon go limp. Happy cooking!