Daikon radish is oftentimes overlooked as a plant-based culinary tool, yet this wonderful root veggie happens to be a powerfully flavorful ingredient to spice up or sweeten any dish. Plus, it’s super versatile and can be eaten raw or cooked, sliced as a garnish, or diced for cooking.
Yet, if we’re going to narrow it down to the best preparation, let’s focus on pickling!
Not only is pickled daikon radish super tasty and nutrient-rich, but it’s a useful topping for salads, mixing into larger entrees, adding to soups, or simply eating raw. Plus, pickled daikon radish is also a great source of gut-boosting probiotics. The pickling process involves a period of fermentation, which generates healthy microorganisms that, when consumed, help populate your body and keep it running smoothly.
Want to learn more! Read further for a rundown on daikon radish and it’s powerful probiotics.
What is Daikon Radish?
Daikon radish goes by many names including “white radish, Japanese radish, Chinese radish, winter radish, and luobo,” as well as oilseed and icicle radish and is native to China and Japan. Along with the variety of names, there are also a variety of types of daikon radish that can “vary in appearance, color, and flavor.” While this root vegetable is generally used for cooking and can be eaten in a variety of ways including raw, cooked, and pickled, it’s also widely known for its medicinal benefits.
The Different Types of Daikon
When it comes to choosing your favorite daikon, it’s all about knowing your options! And there are 6 different daikon radish varieties to choose from. Here’s a quick rundown to help you sort through the flavor profiles and uses.
1. Miyashige White
Miyashige white daikon radish has a “light, slightly spice flavor” and a wonderful crunchy texture. This radish is great to be added to stir-fries and soups, but it can also be pickled or it can be cooked like any of your other favorite veggies. The Miyashige white “is white and has a cylindrical root that grows 16 [to] 18 inches long.”
The name may lean more military than vegetable, but the KN-Bravo daikon radish is one of the more beautiful of root vegetables. This radish’s “internal color ranges from pale purple to white with purple streaks” making it a colorful addition to salads, stir-fries, rice, and noodles. The outer skin of the KN-Bravo is purple to light purple, the root can grow up to 6 inches, and it has a slightly sweet flavor.
The alpine daikon radish is known as a spring radish and has a “green shoulder, delicious, firm white flesh, and smooth skin.” This variety grows between nine and eleven inches long and is a “popular choice to make kimchi — a fermented vegetable dish.” Plus, this variety “has a sweeter taste than longer daikon varieties.”
4. Watermelon radish
Watermelon radish — also known as “Rooseheart or Red Meat” — is one of the most popular of the daikon radish family, originating in China as an heirloom. This variety “has pale, greenish skin, yet reveals a bright pink flesh when cut open.” While other types of daikon radish are sweeter, the watermelon radish has only a “slightly sweet” yet more peppery flavor.
5. Japanese Minowase
If you’re looking for more bang for your buck, then you may want to consider picking up a Japanese Minowase daikon radish. This is the largest variety and can grow up to 24 inches long. The Minowase radish is pure white with a mild, “sweet flavor and crunchy texture” with firmer flesh. These Japanese-based daikon radishes are known as the winter variety.
Last, but not least, are Shunkyo daikon radish. These radishes are cylindrical with “red skin and white flesh” and they are relatively small, growing up to five inches long. With that said, Shunkyo pack a punch of flavor in a small package, known for their “fiery yet sweet flavor and pink-stemmed leave.”
Probiotic Health Benefits of Pickled Daikon Radish
Daikon radish is actually well-known for many health benefits. Part of this is due to an attractive nutrient profile that includes super low calories with ample doses of vitamin C — also a powerful antioxidant! — and folate, — important for “cellular growth, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis” — as well as moderate doses of protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper.
Along with these nutrients, daikon radish is one of the best ingredients to use when creating fermented kimchi. Why is this important? Fermented foods happen to be one of the richest natural sources of gut-friendly probiotics.
If you haven’t heard about probiotics, these are “living microorganisms that, when ingested, provide numerous health benefits.” Probiotics can be in the form of bacteria — the most common variety — as well as yeasts. Fermented foods rely on healthy bacteria to cause that wonderful fermentation and which subsequently makes them rich in probiotic microorganisms.
These probiotics have all sorts of wonderful health benefits!
1. Digestive Health
One of the most impressive health benefits of probiotics is on digestive system health.
For instance, probiotics have been linked to combating “irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common digestive disorder, reducing gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and other symptoms.” Studies have also found that probiotics have beneficial effects “against inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis,” and they may be able to fight off “Helicobacter pylori infections, which are one of the main drivers of ulcers and stomach cancer.”
2. Healthy Weight Management
Next to boosting your digestive system, probiotics have also been linked to healthy weight management. Turns out that gut bacteria — highly affected by probiotics — may be a determining factor when it comes to managing a healthy weight. In fact, scientists “believe that your gut bacteria are important in determining body weight” in the first place.
A study involving 210 participants found that those that took probiotic “Lactobacillus gasseri daily resulted in an 8.5 [percent] loss of belly fat over 12 weeks.” The study observed these patients after they stopped taking the probiotic and found that “they gained the belly fat back within four weeks.”
3. Inflammation Fighting
Chronic bodily inflammation has been linked to many diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, digestive disorders, autoimmune diseases, and may even be a contributing factor for diabetes. While more studies are necessary on this front, current research has discovered that “probiotics reduce systemic inflammation.” Per a review posted in the journal Functional Foods in Health & Disease entitled Probiotics as regulators of inflammation, “probiotics can indirectly affect the inflammatory response by negating the source of pro-inflammatory stimuli associated with low-grade endotoxemia.”
4. Immune System Boosting
Some of the same factors that cause probiotics to reduce inflammation also make them a positive influencer on boosting the strength of your immune system. In fact, a few specific strains are currently being researched as immune function enhances and may “possibly [lead] to a reduced risk of infections, including … the common cold.”
5. Fights Depression and Anxiety
Recent research — such as illustrated in this Science Magazine article entitled Evidence mounts that gut bacteria can influence mood, prevent depression — has uncovered an incredibly tight connection between gut bacteria and mental health. In particular, it’s been found that probiotic strains “Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with clinical depression.”
Recipes with Daikon Radish
Get your daikon radish on in the kitchen! While this lovely radish can be used raw on top of salads or boiled down in soups and stews, if you want to get the most probiotic benefits out of it, then go with traditional kimchi! Luckily, most kimchi recipes naturally call for daikon radish, so it’s just about finding the flavor profile that you enjoy.
Probiotic-Friendly Kimchi with Daikon Radish
Source: Cucumber Kimchi
When it comes to sourcing all that wonderful probiotic goodness from daikon radish, it’s about fermentation. One of the most traditional ways to ferment daikon radish is through Kimchi.
This traditional Korean dish is created from “vegetables, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, salt, and fish.” Yet, for us vegans and plant-based eaters, simply nix the fish! This mixture of spices and veggies is “pickled and fermented which was originally a way to preserve the vegetables for the winter months.” While kimchi recipes all vary, — there are hundreds! — you’ll generally use cabbage, — an incredibly nutritious cruciferous veggie — wonderful daikon radish, plus cucumbers and scallions. If you go traditional, you’ll get a flavorful mixture that combines sweet, spicy, and savory!
If you’re ready to get your kimchi on, here are a few fun recipes to get you started!
Ginger Carrot Daikon Kimchi
Source: Ginger Carrot Daikon Kimchi
This Ginger Carrot Daikon Kimchi recipe by Jessica Meyers Altman offers a great way to integrate daikon radish into your daily menu with an infusion of probiotic goodness! If kimchi is a bit powerful for your taste buds, this salad is a great balance. It’s got those wonderful kimchi probiotics, but there are other rich flavors layered into the mix including ginger, carrot, and chili paste. Great for a super healthy and uplifting mid-day meal or even a side dish for dinner.
Source: Homemade Kimchi
Looking for something super basic and tradition? This Homemade Kimchi recipe by Adam Merrin and Ryan Alvarez will hit the right notes for you. This recipe already calls for daikon radish — yeah! — so no supplementing necessary. Make a huge batch of this wonderful kimchi and either eat a spoonful a day for that awesome probiotic goodness or mix into a variety of noodles, rice, salad, or wrap recipes for a bit of a spicy bang on a daily basis.
Kimchi Fried Rice
Source: Kimchi Fried Rice
Once you’ve mastered making your own kimchi with daikon radish, this is a great recipe to start circulating into your weekly or monthly menu! This Kimchi Fried Rice recipe by Vegan Punks is super tasty, nutrient-rich, probiotic-rich, and a fun meal to mix up the normal routine. While it may seem a bit laborious at first — the sauce takes a little more effort — you can make it in a big batch and simply keep it on hand. Plus, this means you can use this super tasty sauce in other concoctions as well!
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