Week 6: Daikon

8 Feb

Last week I was at Whole Foods and saw this in the produce section:

It kind of looked like a white carrot, but was a lot fatter. I searched around for a label or a sign indicating what vegetable it was, but couldn’t find anything. My friend works at Whole Foods, so the next time I saw her, I tried to describe it as best I could: “Kind of like a big fat white carrot, with short choppy stems at the top.” That apparently rang a bell with her and she let me know it was a daikon. A daikon is an East Asian radish. Its supposed to have a milder taste than smaller radishes, is a good source of vitamin C, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

I didn’t buy the daikon that day at Whole Foods, but waited until I went to the winter farmer’s market in Somerville. I heard about the farmer’s market from a coworker and since it’s about a five minute walk from my house, I checked it out last weekend. It was pretty amazing. Not only is there local produce, but there is organic produce from other regions, fish, meat, cheese, bread and wine. We got a ton of different vegetables with a recipe from my The Essential Vegetarian cookbook in mind. I had made the Spicy Chickpea and Vegetable Casserole before, but not in quite a while. This time I improvised on the vegetables, grabbing carrots, a turnip, an onion, potatoes, a sweet potato, green beans, zucchini and, of course the daikon, from the farmer’s market.

The recipe is simple – saute the onion with garlic and a little oil, add vegetable stock, canned tomatoes (I hate canned tomatoes, so I substituted just tomato sauce), a can of chickpeas, cumin, chili powder and allspice. Let that simmer covered for a while before adding the vegetables, letting that cook for 30 minutes or so. Then add oregano and tomato paste and simmer uncovered for 10 more minutes. Voila! Spicy Chickpea and Vegetable Casserole.

I wanted to try the daikon both raw and cooked, seeing how it can be eaten both ways. Raw, it was really crunchy and had a pretty strong taste. It was kind of bitter and tasted a bit like turnip. Once added to the casserole and boiled, the daikon kind of just tasted like the spicy tomato sauce and wasn’t  bitter at all. I liked it better cooked, since raw it had a much stronger flavor.

So this week proved to be doubly good – a new veggie to put on salads in the summer and to add to vegetable recipes in the winter.

One Response to “Week 6: Daikon”

  1. Dana February 9, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    The smaller the daikon the less bitter, and more radishy, it will be. Next time get a few smaller ones instead of one giant one.

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