You’re either a radish person or you’re not. At least, that is, when it comes to the common radish. Its strong peppery taste, while many love it, leaves others feeling less than impressed. Enter the daikon radish. It doesn’t exactly look like a regular radish—it’s large and white instead of small and red. It doesn’t exactly taste like a regular radish—it’s milder, with a slight tang. And chances are you’ve even enjoyed it in some of your favorite Asian stir-fries without realizing it. But with its ample doses of vitamin C, potassium, and calcium, this is a vegetable you don’t want to overlook!
A daikon radish is a long cylindrical vegetable with a smooth white or beige skin. Its size can vary considerably, but the average daikon is usually 10 to 15 inches in length and about 4 inches in diameter.
Daikon radishes are milder and tangier than the peppery common radishes. Daikon radish greens are edible and have a pungent flavor.
Daikon radish is readily available, especially during peak season, in specialty shops and Asian markets.
Daikon radishes can be planted and harvested year round. However, those harvested in late fall and early winter typically yield the best flavor.
Unlike other vegetables, the size of the daikon radish does not affect its taste. Big or small, just choose a firm root with a shiny, smooth exterior.
Avoid radishes with cracked skin, nicks, or bruises, as these can negatively affect the taste. If the root has greens attached, make sure they’re not limp—limp greens signify that the radish is overripe.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen,” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen”. These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides.
Daikon radish is not specifically highlighted on any list, but it is part of the same family of vegetables as cabbage and cauliflower, which are both on the “Clean Fifteen” list. Which means you can enjoy the conventionally grown version without concern over pesticides.
No matter the variety of produce, the Environmental Working Group and Yoffie Life stress that consuming conventionally grown vegetables and fruits when the organic version is unavailable or financially impossible is far better than eating none at all.
Wrap daikon radish securely in plastic wrap and store in your refrigerator crisper for up to 3 days.
Wash the root thoroughly under cool running water, and if necessary, remove any dirt and residue with a vegetable brush. Then slice, chop, or dice to achieve the desired size for raw or cooked dishes. Peeling the root is optional.
Radish greens are also edible. They can be washed and chopped, then added to soups and stir-fries.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.
Alongside sodium and chloride, potassium is an electrolyte essential for conducting electrical reactions in the body. Potassium aids proper muscle function, digestive health, and skeletal contractions.
A mineral that plays a role in producing collagen and keeping the immune system in proper working order, copper is an essential nutrient needed by the body in small amounts. Copper may also fight against free radicals, helping to delay the aging process. Energy production is also one of the many benefits of this important mineral.
B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.
Provides structural support to DNA and RNA, works with calcium in the formation of tooth enamel and bone, helps to filter wastes out of the kidneys, and regulates energy. Phosphorus also plays an integral role in cardiovascular health and repairing cells and tissues throughout the body.
Daikon radish is packed with vitamin C. In fact, a single serving (1 cup) yields an entire day’s vitamin C needs, plus some! Since vitamin C is necessary for boosting the immune system, add daikon radish to your diet during the fall and winter months to ensure you’re better equipped against pesky illnesses like the common cold and the flu.
These vegetables also contain 9 percent of your daily calcium needs. This may not seem like much, but fulfilling daily calcium requirements can be difficult, especially for vegans. Incorporate calcium-rich produce, like the daikon radish, into your diet to fortify your bones and help prevent osteoporosis.
- In Japanese, dai means large and kon means root. Daikon can be pronounced either DI-cone or DI-kuhn.
- When shopping for daikon, be on the lookout for these other names for the root: Oriental radish, icicle radish, Chinese radish, or lor bark.
- Although originally from the coasts of the Mediterranean, 90 percent of daikon radishes are grown and consumed in Japan. At one time, there were more than 100 varieties, representative of various regions of the country.