November 10, 2018

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?


Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

Not too long ago, we passed a field and wondered what the farmer planted. It looked just like those. Very interesting.

Cockeyed Jo said...

Being Asian, I have dozens of recipes for my daikon harvest. One yummy one you might like is Daikon Beef Stirfry.

1/4lb beef strips, cut into 2" pieces
1 lb daikon radish, cut into slices or small cubes
Leaves from daikon, chopped
1 pint of beef bone broth or stock
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbs ginger root, minced (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs vegetable oil
2 tbs soy sauce, if you are using any LaChoy products (YUCK!) I'll unsubscribe you LOL
1 tbs non GMO cornstarch
salt n pepper to taste

Boil the daikon root until tender. Most of the liquid will be gone.
Meanwhile chop and mince remaining ingredients.
Mix beef in corn starch and let sit for 5 minutes tossing occasionally.
In a skillet or wok, heat oils and add beef, garlic, ginger, and red pepper. Cook until half cooked and browned.
Add daikon green and daikon with remaining liquid. Stir fry. 2 minutea until the greens are wilted.
Add soy sauce salt and pepper. Stir fry 1 minute more.
Serve over brown or white rice. Serves 4.

Leigh said...

Kristina, forage radishes are popular for deer plots and as cover crops. They have excellent versatility!

Jo, thanks! The recipe looks yummy. I will definitely have to give this a try. And I hope you continue to post more daikon recipes on your blog!

Woolly Bits said...

a similar type of radish is common in germany - but I only ever see it over here in the syrian shop in town! every now and then we get one, slice it finely and serve it with a vinaigrette and a lot of chives as a salad.... hmmmm:) they come without leaves and stalks though, I'd have to grow it myself to try them. but our soil is fairly stony, so it might be difficult to grow!

Sam I Am...... said...

How wonderful! What time of year can you grow them? Are they cold hardy? Isn't Kimchi really hot/spicy or can you make it not so hot. My ex said he had it in Vietnam and loved it but he loved 'hot' dishes. I can't handle too spicy it gives me heartburn. I love all the things you made with it and I love greens of any kind. You made me hungry with all those wonderful dishes! Thank you! Also, thank you for the book referrals for the recipes.

Chris said...

The one time I grew Daikon, Leigh, they did exceptionally well. Bolted to seed at the slightest hint of heat though. so probably best as a cool weather only plant. I grated mine, like carrot, in salads.

Mama Pea said...

I really like daikon radishes (any radish, for that matter), but have never had much luck growing them. Which is just weird because other varieties of radishes are easy for me to grow . . . before the summer get to hot for them anyway.

You've encouraged me to talk to the daikon seeds more next spring when planting time rolls around and see if I can make them grow for me.

Leigh said...

Bettina, it's curious they grow in Europe but you can't buy them in Ireland! I suspect you are right about growing them, Root crops don't seem to care for rocky soil too well. I have to add that besides the roots, the raw greens are very good in salad.

Sam, a lot of recipes call for the addition of hot pepper in kimchi. I didn't add that! It seems like it's a versatile dish so that you can adapt the recipe to your own tastes. Do you eat many lacto-fermented foods? Daikons are supposed to be good for digestion, as is ginger. Plus the probiotics! Can't lose with that.

Chris, I agree they'd be best for cool weather. I have a terrible time with regular radishes bolting. Our weather has been mild do far and I notice a number of the daikons flowering too. But that's okay, because I'd love to save some of the seed!

Mama Pea, that's curious, isn't it? I hope your next try is successful. They are an extremely versatile plant!

Cockeyed Jo said...

Leigh, I just started posting some how to recipes on my blog. Up until a year ago, I just did videos and compiling a cookbook of recipes. Since our audio went down last August I haven't been able to afford a new one. Thus the cooking on the blog. The cookbook creation is slow going because I want to include lots of pictures...that means I have to prepare them first.

Leigh said...

Jo, that's good news about the recipes. And I think a cookbook is a great idea. Do you have a publisher or are you doing that yourself? Learning how to prepare photos for print was a process for me, so I know what you're talking about. Good photographs are a lot of work. I'm sorry to hear about your computer audio though. It's always something, isn't it?

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Daikon is a very versatile item - quite filling (if tasteless) eaten by itself. Very good pickled, though.

Kimchee is amazing - and at least from what I remember, quite good for you. I believe there is a whole museum in South Korea dedicated to Kimchee and its regional varieties.

Leigh said...

TB, so I'm learning! I never would have thought to plant it if it hadn't been for my research on cover crops. So glad I did.

Helberg Farm Stories said...

I love your year in a life guys accomplished a ton this year - KUDOS!! Question: Where did you get your barn water collection system and what did it cost (I assume you guys also installed that yourselves - double kudos!!) :-)

Leigh said...

Rachel, thanks! Yes, we installed it ourselves. The 1550-gallon stock tank came from Tractor Supply. It was about $800 and the most economical we could find. All the fixtures came from there as well. We don't have a lot of money, so we have to piece things together. We've experimented a lot with rain collection and it seems we tweak it a bit more each time. Currently we're trying out different ways to filter the water.