Daikon is a type of winter radish, known by many other names, depending on the cultural context. It’s known for its mild flavor and the short time it needs to be produced. It originated in the Southeast Asia and is now wide spread across the world.
It’s mostly the roots of the plant that are used for culinary purposes but the leafs could be used as well as an addition to salads, pastas and sandwiches. There are also a number of non-white varieties, with mostly a decorative use.
- Daikon means big root in Japanese
- Daikon is used in preparing metal surfaces for chemical patination, for example under the Rokushō process.
- Growing in the same tile as a potato, increase the yield of potatoes.
The daikon should be equally sized meaning that there are no lumps and outgrowths in it. It should also have a clean and smooth surface. It should have a white skin and if it doesn’t it means it has started to grow too old for use.
The radish should feel heavy in hand relative to its size. There should be as little green parts near the head of the plant because that is a sign that it was exposed to the sun for too long.
Production & Farming in Texas
At this point, daikon is mostly grown in California, but there are a few commercial ventures producing it in Texas as well. They are mostly located near Huston, since that’s where the largest Asian population is in Texas, and daikon is a staple of Asian cuisine.
The properties of daikon are similar to all other radishes and that’s how it’s planted, cared about, and harvested in Texas. They require very little room and they should be grown in shade. They also need a well-drained soil, otherwise the roots won’t be straight.
Daikon is planted in early spring as soon as the soil is ready for it. The seeds should be ½ inch deep and 1 inch apart in the row. The plant should be visible above ground in 4 to 6 days. Planting is done steadily about 8 days apart in order to get a steady supply of daikon.
If they are left in the ground for too long, they will become too firm and less useable. The goal is therefore to harvest them right on time in order to get as much radish as you can but to keep it tender and according to taste for most shops.
There are a few pesticides used on daikon because insects are prone to attacking it. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include sulfur and Bt-based insecticides. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties that help in controlling many diseases.
Daikon is grown throughout Asia. In China and Vietnam, it’s used both fresh and pickled and it’s often an ingredient of soups. In the Philippines it’s an ingredient of stews that are a staple of local food. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indian cuisine also use daikon, mostly to add spice flavor to food.
The plant is also widely spread across the west wherever there’s an Asian population. Biggest portions of western production are in Britain and in California because that’s where there’s a lot of Asian and Indian population.
Daikon is mostly packed in wooden or cardboard containers and displayed as it is in the stores. Some might decide to wrap it in plastic as well to protect its moisture, but many just leave it as is and sell it in paper bags. The thick skin of the root is the protection on its own. It’s perfectly fine to just pick up one and carry it home from the store, but have in mind that the root can be as big as your arm.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy daikon and you should choose based on your preference and what other food you have available. In Asian culture many pickle daikon as they would cucumbers, and this is the best option for long term storage.
Grated daikon can also be mixed with soya sauce and used as a toping for a variety of different food. It’s rather good on fish and it complements in greatly.
Peeled rounds of daikon can be added to water or daishi and in the chicken stock. It adds a flavor and a peppery feel to it.
In the end, daikon can be roasted, cooked, and boiled as any other radish and it will make any meal spicier so you need to add it according to your taste.
Daikon can last up to 2 weeks when it’s stored in a fridge. That can be done as simply as by storing the daikon in the plastic bag and keeping it in the cold part of the fridge. Make sure that you don’t wash it first and to wrap it in a paper towel.
Daikon is a spicy plant and you will do best to cook it with mild ingredients so that they balance each other out. Cut the daikon into sticks and roast it on a pan together with meat or other vegetables that will mix with it well, such as papers and potatoes.
Boiled radish is also a popular side dish in Asian cultures. It takes about 20 minutes to boil daikon until it’s tender. All you need to do is to stir it occasionally and to add chopped scallion and sesame oil before serving.
Daikon is a very-low-calorie vegetable yet has an impressive nutrient profile.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that’s essential to health and needed for many bodily functions, including immune system function and tissue growth and repair. Plus, it doubles as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your body’s cells from oxidative damage
Daikon is also rich in folate, a B vitamin that’s involved in cellular growth, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis). Foods rich in folate are particularly important during pregnancy, as this nutrient plays an integral role in the growth and development of the baby.
When Are Daikon in Season in Texas?
To find out when Daikon are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.