|A pile of daikon radishes
in a Japanese supermarket
|long white radish|
|Literal meaning||"white radish"
|Postal Map||lo bak
|Literal meaning||"leafy-vegetable head"|
|Vietnamese||củ cải trắng|
|Literal meaning||"white radish"|
lit. "big root"
Daikon, also known by many other names depending on context, is a mild-flavored winter radish (Raphanus sativus) usually characterized by fast-growing leaves and a long white napiform root. Originally native to Southeast or continental East Asia, daikon is harvested and consumed throughout the region (as well as in South Asia) but is primarily grown in North America as a fallow crop, with the roots left unharvested to prevent soil compaction and the leaves (if harvested) used as animal fodder.
In culinary contexts, "daikon" or "daikon radish" (from its Japanese name) is the most common in all forms of English, although historical ties to South Asia permit "mooli" (from its Hindi name) as a general synonym in British English. The generic terms "white radish", "winter radish", "Oriental radish", "long white radish", etc. are also used. Other synonyms usually vary by region or describe regional varieties of the vegetable. When it is necessary to distinguish the usual Japanese form from others, it is sometimes known as "Japanese radish" or "true daikon". The vegetable's Mandarin names are still uncommon in English; in most forms of Chinese cuisine, it is usually known as "Chinese white radish" although in Cantonese and Malaysian cuisine it is encountered as "lobak", "lo pak", etc. In the cuisines of Hokkien-speaking areas such as Singapore, it is also known as "chai tow" or "chai tau" and, in South Asia, as "mooli". In any of these, it may also simply be referred to as "radish", with the regional variety implied by context. In English-speaking countries, it is also sometimes marketed as "icicle radish".
In mainland China and Singapore, the calque "white carrot" or misnomer "carrot" is sometimes used, owing to the similarity of the vegetables' names in Mandarin and Hokkien. This variant gave the title to a popular guidebook on Singaporean street food, There's No Carrot in Carrot Cake, which refers to chai tow kway, a kind of cake made from daikon.
The official general name used by the United States Department of Agriculture is "oilseed radish", but this is only used in non-culinary contexts. Other English terms employed when daikon is being used as animal feed or as a soil ripper are "forage radish", "fodder radish", and "tillage radish".
The most common variety in Japan (aokubi-daikon) produces an elongated root in the shape of a giant white carrot approximately 20 to 35 cm (8 to 14 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in) in diameter. Most Chinese and Indian forms are roughly similar.
There are a number of non-white varieties. The Cantonese lobak, lo pak, etc. sometimes refers to the usual Chinese form but is also applied to a form of daikon with light green coloration of the top area of the root around the leaves. The "Korean radish" is similarly colored but with a rounder, more potato-like shape. Both are often spicier than the long white radishes. The heirloom "watermelon radish" is another Chinese variety of daikon with a dull green exterior but a bright rose or fuchsia-colored center. Its Chinese name (t 心里美蘿蔔, s 心里美萝卜, xīnlǐměi luóbó) is sometimes irregularly romanized as the "shinrimei radish" and sometimes translated as the "beauty heart" or "roseheart radish".
The Chinese and Indian varieties tolerate higher temperatures than the Japanese one. These varieties grow well at lower elevations in East Africa. It is best if there is plenty of moisture and it can grow quickly; otherwise, the flesh becomes overly tough and pungent. The variety "Long White Icicle" is available as seed in Britain, and will grow very successfully in Southern England, producing roots resembling a parsnip by midsummer in good garden soil in an average year.
The roots can be stored for some weeks without the leaves if lifted and kept in a cool dry place. If left in the ground, the texture tends to become woody, but the storage life of untreated whole roots is not long.[clarification needed]
In Japanese cuisine, many types of pickles are made with daikon, including takuan and bettarazuke. Daikon is also frequently used grated and mixed into ponzu, a soy sauce and citrus juice condiment. Simmered dishes are also popular such as oden. Daikon that has been shredded and dried (a common method of preserving food in Japan) is called kiriboshi-daikon (literally, "cut-dried daikon"). Daikon radish sprouts (kaiware-daikon) are used for salad or garnishing sashimi. Daikon leaf is frequently eaten as a green vegetable. Pickling and stir frying are common. The daikon leaf is part of the Festival of Seven Herbs, called suzushiro.
In Chinese cuisine, turnip cake and chai tow kway are made with daikon. The variety called mooli has a high water content, and some cookbooks recommend salting and draining it before it is cooked. Sometimes mooli is used to carve elaborate garnishes.
In Korean cuisine, a variety is used to make kkakdugi, nabak kimchi and muguk soup. The younger version of the radish is used with the leaves in chonggak kimchi. This variety of daikon is shorter, stouter, and has a pale green color extending from the top, to approximately halfway down the tuber. The flesh is denser than the Japanese variety and the leaves are smooth in texture which makes them better for pickling. The leaves of a mature plant are often too tough to be eaten raw, and so are shade dried to be used in soups, or boiled and seasoned into potherbs.
In Vietnamese cuisine, sweet and sour pickled daikon and carrots (củ cải cà rốt chua) are a common condiment in bánh mì sandwiches. In the Philippines, a soupy dish called sinigang may include daikon.
In Pakistani cuisine, the young leaves of the daikon plant are boiled and flash fried with a mixture of heated oil, garlic, ginger, red chili and a variety of spices. The radish is eaten as a fresh salad often seasoned with either salt and pepper or chaat masala.
In Bangladesh, fresh daikon is often finely grated and mixed with fresh chilli, coriander, flaked steamed fish, lime juice and salt. This light, refreshing preparation is served alongside meals and is known as mulo bhorta.
In North India, daikon is a popular ingredient used to make sabzi, stuffed paranthas, pakodas, salads, pickles and also used as garnish. The plant's leaves are used to make dal and kadhi among other dishes. In South India, daikon is the principal ingredient in a variety of sambar, in which roundels of the radish are boiled with onions, tamarind pulp, lentils and a special spice powder. When cooked, it can release a very strong odor. This soup, called mullangi sambar (Tamil: முள்ளங்கி சாம்பார் Kannada: ಮೂಲಂಗಿ ಸಾಂಬಾರ್; literally, "daikon sambar") is very popular and mixed with cooked rice to make a good meal.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||76 kJ (18 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||1.6 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Daikon is very low in food energy. A 100-gram serving contains only 76 kilojoules or 18 Calories (5 Cal/oz), but provides 27 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. Daikon also contains the active enzyme myrosinase.
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- Agricultural Research Service. GRIN Taxonomy for Plants: "Raphanus sativus L." United States Dep't of Agriculture (Beltsville), 2014. Accessed 25 Jun 2014.
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- Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed. "mooli, n." Oxford University Press (Oxford), 2002.
- The Oxford English Dictionary, for instance, provides an entry for "mooli" and only mentions "daikon" as its synonym in Japanese contexts.
- Larkcom and Douglass divide the term "oriental radish" into two categories, which they label "white mooli types" and "coloured types".
- Robert Bailey Thomas. The Old Farmer's Almanac. p. 28.
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- Natural Resources Conservation Service. PLANTS Database. "Plant Guide: Oilseed Radish, Raphanus sativus L.". United States Dep't of Agriculture, 2012. Accessed 22 June 2014.
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- Pickled Shredded Daikon and Carrots Củ cải cà rốt chua
- Sanjeev Kapoor
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