This time of year I focus quite a bit on two general categories of produce: citrus and members of the Brassicaceae vegetable family. Both are incredibly diverse and are in their true season during the winter and spring.
When it comes to the Brassicaceae vegetables, it is often surprising that there is a familial connection between the individual items that include the likes of radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens and turnips.
Some are consumed for their leafy greens, while others are more of a root vegetable. And, of course, broccoli and cauliflower are enjoyed for their stems and florets.
Another member of the Brassicaceae family that would initially appear not to be a fit is the bright white daikon radish root.
Ranging in length from about 8-20 inches depending on their stage of maturity, daikon radishes grow below the earth’s surface in a similar fashion to that of carrots. However, unlike carrots where the tops are discarded, daikon radish tops are edible, possessing a rustic texture with notes of spicy mustard green throughout.
The root itself is quite heavy for its size, much due to its moist center.
With a very pleasing crisp and snappy texture, daikon delivers a relatively mild flavor with subtle notes of sweet and peppery throughout.
Daikon radishes can be enjoyed both raw or cooked. When cooked, the root takes on a soft potato-like texture and milder flavor than when in its raw state.
I most commonly shred my daikon and mix it into my leafy green or cabbage preparations. Occasionally I will add them to my roasted vegetable trays or stir-fry’s.
Another great use for daikon is to pickle or ferment the root, either sliced into rounds, thin sticks, or shredded. There are hundreds of variations you can put together when pickling or fermenting daikon using an array of seasonings, herbs, garlic cloves, and other produce additions such as peppers, carrots, beets and cauliflower.
This week I prepared a quick pickled daikon and red onion dish. I cut my daikon into rounds this time, but often shred my daikon and combine with carrots for another twist.
Pickled Daikon and Red Onion
1 daikon root, rinsed, scrubbed and dried.
1 medium red onion, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic
1 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
Discard the daikon top and cut into thin rounds, or shred. In a pot, add water and turn to high heat and add sugar. Add vinegar and salt and mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add your daikon, red onion, and garlic cloves to sterile jars, and add hot pickling liquid to each jar.
Screw on the lid and let sit for a couple of hours before transferring to the refrigerator. They are best after refrigerated for at least an hour. The pickled daikon then can be enjoyed out of the jar over the next couple of weeks.