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Experimenting With Daikons

This was my first year for growing daikon radishes. They are very popular in Asian cooking, probably best known as an ingredient in kimchi (Korean lacto-fermented vegetables). In hunting areas they are referred to as "forage radishes" and commonly included in deer forage plots. Livestock will graze the greens too. I grew them as a cover crop, because they are excellent for helping to loosen and add organic matter to heavy or compacted soils. They've grown well, so how could I not experiment a bit to see how I could add them to our diet?

For ideas, I turned to Farmer John's Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables. (Out of print, but reasonably priced used copies are still available.) I like this book because it's organized by season and discusses many of the less common vegetables - like daikons.

The roots and greens of young tender plants can be eaten raw. 

Chopped daikon greens and sliced roots in salad.

Mature leaves can be added to soups, so why not as a cooked green?

Daikon greens sauteed in bacon grease with salt, pepper, & onions.

The flavor is strong; similar to turnip greens. The next day I used the leftover greens to make soup for lunch.

Cream of greens soup uses a white sauce base. I added the leftover
cooked greens plus about 1/4 cup caramelized red onion chutney.

Yummy! The chutney (link will take you to the recipe) added just a hint of sweet and sour, which complimented the natural flavor of the greens.

Next experiment, oven-roasted daikon roots and sweet potatoes.

Seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Roasted, the daikons were fairly mild and similar to turnips.

And of course I made a batch of kimchi. I do quite a bit of lacto-fermenting, but I've never tried kimchi, because I've never had the daikons. I looked at recipes in Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions and Sandor Katz's Wild Fermentation, also Jo's timely "Making Kimchi Cockeyed Style" blog post over at The Cockeyed Homestead. I didn't have all the ingredients to follow any of these recipes exactly, so I bought a few things from the organic produce section at the grocery store for my own variation.

Napa cabbage, ginger, daikon radishes, and carrots.

Veggies chopped & fermenting in a solution of water, salt, & whey.

It will be ready in a couple of weeks. It makes my mouth water just to think about it! LOL

I'm glad I stumbled across this wonderful root vegetable, because besides its culinary versatility it's healthy too. According to OrganicFacts website, daikons contain calcium, vitamin C, digestive enzymes, and are high in fiber. They have a number of health-promoting properties: antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant, and antioxidant. It's a diuretic, so it helps the body detoxify. Looks like I've found a new garden staple.

Do you grow daikons? How do you use them? Any more recipe ideas?


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