Growing up and eating mainly Chinese and Asian food, the only radishes I ate were daikon radishes. In fact, I didn't even know that other radishes existed! I've now grown to love the eye-catching, colorful, smaller radishes, but the big and humble daikon radish still holds a special place in my heart.
What Are Daikon Radishes?
Daikon radishes are one of the largest radishes, ranging from six to 15 inches in length, and two to three inches in diameter. They're known by many other names, including white radish, Asian radish, Oriental radish, Chinese radish, or Japanese radish.
These radishes have crisp white flesh and a sweet fresh flavor with a bit of a spicy bite. The skin is usually smooth and creamy white, but black-skinned varieties also exist.
Buying and Storing Daikon Radishes
When buying daikon, look for firm ones that have smooth, not wrinkled, skin. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. While the skin is quite thin, daikon radishes are usually peeled before eating or cooking.
Cooking with Daikon Radishes
My favorite ways of eating daikon radishes have always been classic Chinese dishes my grandmother used to make: braised until tender with beef brisket so the daikon soaks up the meaty braising liquid and mellows out, or grated and steamed into Chinese dim sum cakes (often confusingly named "turnip cakes") that are pan-fried.
Daikon also appears in a lot of other Asian dishes: pickled with carrots for Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, grated raw and served with sashimi, or fermented with Napa cabbage into Korean kimchi.
Besides these traditional preparations, I've recently discovered that thinly sliced daikon adds great crunch to shaved vegetable salads, and they're also a fun vegetable to stir-fry or add to soup. They're so versatile that there are endless ways you can eat daikon, and it'll forever be my favorite radish, even though it's not the best-dressed radish out there.