It’s not quite a parsnip nor a great white carrot, but the daikon is a mild-flavored radish that wintertime locavores are probably quite familiar with. High in fiber, vitamin C, digestive enzymes and magnesium, daikon’s not a bad addition to your wintertime meals. The name daikon comes from a Japanese word simply meaning “great” or “large root,” and some varieties grow up to 3 feet long!
Although daikon is best known as a root crop, the leaves are also delicious and contain more nutrients per serving than the root. You’ll find twice as much potassium and 10 times as much calcium in the leaves, as well as folic acid and vitamin K. So shop for the freshest daikon you can find and use every part of it.
Common in Asian cuisine, daikon root makes a great addition to soups and veggie broth, and can also be grated into salads. The highly nutritious leaves also make a great soup or salad green.
You may have also come across pickled daikon in your Asian food ventures, and you’ll be delighted to know you can make your own daikon pickles with this easy, overnight recipe. If you enjoy making your own sauerkraut, daikon is a great veggie for it.
Although daikon is most heavily consumed in Japan (the majority of Japan’s cultivated land is used to grow this veggie), it actually originated in the Mediterranean and arrived in Japan by way of China a few thousand years ago. And for those of you who like to indulge in sake, take note: a cupful of grated daikon is said to be a great hangover remedy.
If daikon isn’t part of your regular diet, make it so! Low in calories and rich in nutrients, it’s such a versatile veggie and you might as well give it a try. Check back tomorrow for an original daikon recipe from EcoSalon’s very own chef writer, Vanessa Barrington.