Friday, July 3, 2009

The Determined Daikon

I've never been the biggest fan of radishes. I like to grow them but usually my husband is the one who eats them. I don't mind them when they're mild but I'm not so fond of them when they start to get hot. I have learned that I do like them sliced thin and added to my salad (since I'm still growing them but my radish eater isn't here right now). Turns out, I can also eat broccoli in small pieces in my salad (I've never been so big on broccoli either).

Last year, my husband took me to dinner at a Korean restaurant in Colorado Springs. One of the side dishes they brought me was radish. Since most of the sides were something spicy (or otherwise something I wasn't likely to eat), and I don't do spicy, the radish was the safest choice for me. It turned out to be really good. It was a nice, mild radish. I'm pretty sure it was a Daikon.

This was the about the extent of my daikon knowledge when I saw a package of seeds at the nursery early in the spring. I figured I'd try them & see how it went. The seeds I bought are Miyashige White which are grown in the fall for a winter radish (though there are other varieties that can be grown in spring & summer). I planted just a few seeds to see what happened if they were planted in spring. I presprouted the seeds inside then transplanted them to the garden. I had two that survived (see the top of the photo).

I picked one and ate it when it was about 4" long or so (which may have been too early- I think they should be more like 12" long). The other quickly bolted. I decided to leave it there to see what it would do. I also hope to harvest seeds for sprouting. I can only handle a few radish sprouts at a time (on their own, they've got a little bite to 'em) but hubby loves them. The one I ate did have some pep to it like the regular ones so it too was sliced thin & added to the salad.

Whenever I have seen flowering radishes, usually the root is very small. My blooming daikon actually has a very large root. I suppose it has to because it turned into a very large plant! Of course, the work Daikon means Large Root in Japanese, so I guess that makes sense.

Yep, that's ONE daikon radish!

I read on GardenWeb not too long ago that radish seed pods are edible. I had never seen the seed pods before (guess I had always pulled the plant by then) so for those of you who are like me, here's what a radish seed pod looks like.

I did eat a couple (raw from the garden) and they tasted pretty good (like a radish, imagine that) but they were a little hot for my taste. That may be the variety, and that it's out of it's season, so I may try one again in the fall.

Here's that mega-radish from another view. Those flowers reach out over about a 4'x4' area (this is a 4'x10' bed).

Shortly after I took these photos, while I was gone to town, we must have had some pretty wicked winds. When I came home, this is what I found...

Check out the poor sugar snap peas at the other end. They were smushed up but they're doing fine. The daikon was pretty beat up. A few of it's branches broke off and it was pretty well laid over. To allow the other plants growing nearby to see the light of day, I scooped it up and tied it together. I used the hoops in another bed so now it is held up with a scrap piece of irrigation tubing.

I found some information on preparing daikon on What's Cooking America

"Preparation - This is an extremely versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw in salads or cut into strips or chips for relish trays. It also can be stir-fried, grilled, baked, boiled or broiled. Use the daikon as you would a radish. It may be served raw in salads or grated for use as a condiment (if you don't have a Japanese-style grater, use a cheese grater and grate just before serving), pickled, or simmered in a soup. They are also preserved by salting as in making sauerkraut. Daikon also is used in soups and simmered dishes. To prepare, peel skin as you would a carrot and cut for whatever style your recipe idea calls for. Not only is the root eaten, but the leaves also are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium, and iron, so they are worth using instead of discarding.
A Japanese secret to cooking
daikon is to use water in which rice has been washed or a bit of rice bran added (this keeps the daikon white and eliminates bitterness and sharpness}.
For Chips, Relish Tray Sticks or Stir Fries
- Simply peel Daikon with a peeler and cut crossways for thin chips. Dip thin chips in ice water and they will crisp and curl for a Daikon chip platter with your favorite sour cream or yogurt dip. Cut into julienne strips for relish trays, salads or stir-frys.
Nutrition Information - Daikon is very low in calories. A 3 ounce serving contains only 18 calories and provides 34 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. Rich in vitamin C, daikon contains active enzymes that aid digestion, particularly of starchy foods. Select those that feel heavy and have lustrous skin and fresh leaves."

Well, that's what I can tell you (so far at least) about the Daikon Radish. I'm sure there are others out there like me who don't know what ALL the different veggies are and what you do with them, so I hope this is informative for someone out there!


Ribbit said...

I heard those are a nice radish to try! We did black radishes in the spring and we'll do them again in the fall for my father. Those buggers get to be larger than a baseball and can be really not. Not my taste, but my father loves them with cheese. Go figure.

hidinginmygarden said...

Wow, thanks so much for the education about radishes! I love the look of the white flowery bush, and I had no idea there were edible pods to be had.
I'm like you, and enjoy radishes thinly sliced in salads.

Amy said...

I had never heard of black radishes before you grew them. I'm glad you told me they're hot, I was tempted to try them. They look interesting. Radishes and cheese?? Sounds strange.

hidinginmygarden, I would have never thought to eat the pods (if I knew they even occurred). It's amazing what you can learn on the internet!!