Daikon Root is a type of mild flavored, Asian radish; they are an unusual looking vegetable and most people have no idea what they are when they see them at the store. They come in two colors that I am aware of – purple and white. The white daikons are much more readily available in my area of New Jersey, but every once in a while, a purple on shows up at the grocery store (look how beautiful the rich color is). The purple ones have a slightly stronger flavor and ‘bite’, but both are mild compared to red radishes. When you see them at the store or farmer’s market, they may be quite large or have the greens attached. You should look for a daikon that has no holes, it should be firm to the touch not soft or squishy, and it might be dirty looking (that is okay though). Be sure to clean it well and remove the greens. I peel my daikon for better consistency in cooking, but you can wash and keep it on if you’d like. They are often reasonably priced too (I think I pay around $1.99/lb for mine locally).
Daikon is VERY low in calories and is considered a Superfood due to its nutritional benefits. It contains large amounts of enzymes that aid in fat and starch digestion as well as high levels of vitamin C, phosphorus and potassium. It also contains other phyto-nutrients that fight cancer. I have read on some nutrition/food websites that Daikon has been popular in Chinese medicine for a long time because it supposedly helps aid kidney function because of its diuretic properties, can help with swelling (also known as edema), and is helpful in decreasing migraine headaches.
Daikon is extremely low in carbohydrates as well and makes a nice substitute for starchier dishes. I use it as a noodle in soups. All you need is a spiralizer or peeler that can make strips or ribbons. It holds up really well in the soup liquid and is mild enough in flavor that it does not stand out. It is white, so it looks like a noodle! It is also wonderful as a replacement for potatoes in a breakfast hash. You can do either all daikon or half potato-half daikon for a more subtle blend. You can use it chopped or shredded in a cole slaw or as part of a mixed vegetable dish. Some people love to pickle it, but I have never tried making it myself. You can also just slice it into sticks or rounds and sauté it in your pan for a different ‘take’ on radishes in your diet. FYI, some people like to eat it raw, but I prefer it cooked. My husband also prefers it cooked, and he is someone who loves raw red radishes. I encourage you to try it both ways so you can see what you like. Lastly, just a little warning to those new to this vegetable…it does emit a slightly sulphur-like smell when it is cut up and cooked. If submerged in liquid like when in a soup, the smell is muted quite a bit. If you’re making it one of the other ways, it may be a little more noticeable. The scent goes away pretty quickly and you’ll forget all about it once you’re enjoying this amazing vegetable!