Time to Prepare: 30 minutes
Cost: $$ (out of $$$$$)
Cleanup: Less than 5 minutes
While they taste and smell remarkably similar to the much smaller European radishes that most people Stateside will be familiar with, their size and texture offer a pleasant change from the "norm" that can be a welcome addition to salads, or a savory main dish when slow-cooked in meat sauce.
Today, we're going to use a Daikon radish to make a light, yet filling, salad-style dish with a bit of a peppery kick to it.
Cooking Utensils Needed:
As a note, I've opted to use pre-made Miso sauce that already contains ground Szechuan peppercorns and sea salt. This is the case purely because had I opted to do the "traditionalist" thing of using a mortar and pestle to grind my Szechuan peppercorns up before mixing them in with sea salt and white miso in a micro blender to remove any soybean graininess, then using them, it would end up nearly doubling the cook time for this recipe. While the pre-made sauce is good, it can't possibly compare to making your own sauce if you've got the time and desire to do it.
Alright, now that that's out of the way...
To kick things off, put 4 cups of tap water in your stove pot and put it onto the stove burner, turning the heat up to High. By the time the water's boiling, we'll be ready to use it.
If your radish is like mine in that it was harvested towards the end of the growing cycle (making it bigger than average), cut it in half the short way to make it a little bit more manageable for peeling.
Using your carrot peeler, go over the radish half lengthwise to remove the outer layer of vegetable skin from it. You'll likely have a few indents in it where root offshoots from it grew previously; it's alright to leave these in without overpeeling to try and remove them - they won't hurt anything and will only marginally affect the texture and flavor of our finished product.
Cut off the end of the radish when you're done, and run the resulting peeled radish under cool tap water for a few seconds to make sure there isn't any dirt left over on it.
On your cutting board, cut your radish into slices in the ballpark of 1/2 to 3/4 inch in thickness depending on the audience you're cooking for. They don't have to be perfectly even - diversity makes them look fun, too!
Returning to our stove pot (which should be boiling by now; if not, wait a minute or two until it is), ease your radish slices down into the boiling water gently. Once they're all submerged, use your strainer spoon every couple minutes to stir them to ensure that they're cooking evenly and not crusting onto your pot at all.
As a rough estimate, you'll want to let them simmer in boiling water for about 10 minutes. The indication that they're done, shown in the right-side image below, is that you'll begin to be able to make out traces of "veins" in the radishes running from the core to the outside edge, with more translucent sections of the radishes in between. This means that your radish has softened up just enough to be pleasantly chewy, but still firm enough around the outside and core to hold itself together and not fall apart or get "dinged" on the pot edges.
Using your strainer spoon, remove the radish slices from the boiling water at this point and set them aside in a bowl or on your cutting board - we'll get to them in a couple minutes when they've cooled off enough to touch.
In the meantime, put your Komatsuna into your strainer and run the leaves under cool tap water for 20 seconds to clean them and green them up a bit more.
Spread a thin layer of rinsed Komatsuna pieces onto a plate as a base for our Daikon. If you're making this into a bento-style meal instead of a traditional home tabletop meal, apply this technique to your bento box.
You can choose to skip this step if you're purely looking for food that isn't too artsy, but in sticking with the Japanese style of making food that not only tastes good but looks delicious as well, I'm going to use a small cookie cutter mold to cut my Daikon into daisy shapes.
If you do this, make sure you have a decently durable cookie cutter, as radishes are a bit more rigid than cookie batter will be and you don't want to damage your cooking tools.
I'll take the cutout edges of Daikon that I'm not using here, and cut them into little pieces before putting them into a Pyrex container in the refrigerator as an addition to a lunch for later this week. Waste not!
Once you've cut out your Daikon pieces, place them onto the Komatsuna and plate in decorative fashion.
With everything set in order on our plate, the final step is going to be to spread our spicy Miso sauce onto the Daikon. To do this, I'm going to use a decorative icing-style pouch to place some thin lines of Miso sauce across my radishes. If you'd prefer, you can also just use a spoon for this and forego the icing method here.
If you don't normally cook with Komatsuna, it has a very peppery yet slightly bitter taste to it that makes it a more colorful flavor addition to a salad than conventional spinash or lettuce. As such, if your taste buds are really looking for an adventure, put a little bit of the Miso sauce onto the Komatsuna as well.
Our finished dish is perfect for a brunch snack or a main course for a light vegetable-driven meal, coming in between 200-300 calories depending on how much you make. Best eaten with a cold drink to wash the Komatsuna spiciness down!
What do you use Daikon for in your kitchen? Have any interesting variations on it for dishes that you'd like to share? Fellow chef mail is always welcome in my inbox!