Japanese turnip is also known under a few different names such as Tokyo turnip or its Japanese name hakurei turnip. It’s a small globe shaped, white vegetable that is just local variety of the ordinary turnips we all know and use.
They are however, rather different in taste and in their culinary applications. They can be eaten raw and that’s probably the best and the most common way to eat them. It has a sweet and fruity flavor. The variety is relatively new but it’s accepted across the world by now.
Japanese Turnip Trivia
- There are people who are genetically predisposed to have a distaste for turnips. They feel bitter to them.
- Every part of the plant can be used
- They have as much vitamin C as lemons
Japanese Turnip Buying Guide
Turnips should be small and feel heavy for their size. The roots should be white and firm and have no blemishes on the skin at all if the vegetable is fresh. The green parts of the turnip should look fresh without yellow or dark spots and that’s the first thing to look for when making a purchase.
It’s easy to grow and you’ll mostly find them in good condition all year round.
Japanese Turnip Production & Farming in Texas
The plant was easy to grow and that’s what it’s main reason for gaining popularity during the famine in Japan. They only take a few weeks to be harvested from start to finish. They are also pretty much uniformed in they look and size meaning that you don’t need to worry how the harvest will turn out.
The turnips are less likely to become bitter if there’s enough sunlight when they are grown and that’s something that makes Texas such a good place to start growing them. They should be planted in the late spring and again the early fall if you want to have two harvests a year.
The soil needs to be moist and fertile. That can be accomplished by using mulch and by adding water to mitigate the problems from hot Texas weather. It will take a week or two for the turnips to sprout.
The turnips should be harvested when they are the right size. For this type of turnip that’s six inches or more in height. You should also work on thinning the turnips so that they can grow and expand. That will allow the roots to get bigger and meatier.
The skin that protects the turnips will also attract the pesticides and it will stick to it long after they have been harvested.
Japanese turnips are a rather new variety. They have come about in the 50s in Japan after the country had to deal with the famine caused by the war and the aftermath. It was produced by mixing different varieties and the goal was to make turnips that a quick turnaround and that are easy to eat.
After that turnips become a part of the local cuisine and when Japan recovered from the war, it started to export the turnip around the world. It’s now used everywhere, where there’s a Japanese minority. With the growing interest in healthy food it has become popular beyond the Japanese community.
The skin of the turnips is what keeps them protected and that’s why there’s no need to think about packaging too much. They are mostly transported in open cardboard boxes and without the need for refrigeration.
The leafs are usually not protected at all but they are sometimes sprinkled with water in the store in order to keep them looking fresh for a longer period of time. Many customers buy turnips based on the state of the leafs.
Enjoying Japanese Turnips
What’s great about these turnips is that they are softer and easier to manage then ordinary turnips. They don’t need to be cooked in order to eat them so they are often used in salads and mixed with other vegetables. They are also used in soups and often fried as well.
They are rather easy to prepare for this. It starts with cutting off the leafs with a sharp knife as well as the bottoms of the turnips. After that they are prepared depending the dish you’re making. They are often left whole for the soups and noodles.
However, if you’re frying them, it’s best if the turnips are sliced and diced because that allows you to mix them better with other ingredients.
There are plenty of Japanese dishes that use these turnips but lately there are also many western or at least not Japanese as well, that use Japanese turnips instead of ordinary ones where ever that’s possible.
Start by cooking a handful of soba noodles separately in boiling water. There are clear enough instructions on that on the package itself. Drain them and hold on. Use a non-stick frying pan or a sauté pan fry or sauté the turnips separately as well. Add a few teaspoon of vegetable oil to this. Add about a cup of diced baby turnip roots (trimmed) and a couple big pinches of kosher or sea salt. Stir for five minutes.
Add a teaspoon of chopped fresh ginger, one-half teaspoon of chopped garlic, about ¼ cup thickly sliced spring onions or scallions, and a couple tablespoons of quartered, sliced radishes. Mix the two together when finished.
One cup of raw turnips weighing 130 grams (g) provides 2.34 g of fiber. Fiber helps reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon.
Specifically, high fiber diets are associated with a lower risk of intestinal problems, including diverticulitis. Turnips and other high fiber foods can help reduce the prevalence of diverticulitis flares by absorbing water in the colon and making bowel movements easier. However, doctors do not always recommend a high fiber diet for people with diverticulitis. Talk to a doctor before eating high fiber foods.
In 2014, a large prospective study found that different types of fiber had different effects on a person’s risk of diverticulitis. Overall, however, fiber reduced the risk.
That said, one 2012 study found that a high fiber intake did not change a person’s risk of diverticulitis if it is asymptomatic.
When Are Japanese Turnips in Season in Texas?
To find out when Japanese Turnips 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.