The combination of rice, daikon (white radish) and aburaage (fried thin tofu) in daikon gohan is just perfect. Rice with White Radish (Daikon Takikomi Gohan) is another mixed rice recipe similar to Shimeji Gohan (Rice with Shimeji Mushrooms) but the soy sauce flavour of the rice is slightly stronger. If you use konbu dashi stock, it becomes vegetarian.
You might see daikon (white radish) sold at vegetable shops all year round but daikon is a seasonal vegetable that is best eaten in winter. Here in Sydney at the moment, daikon is sold in Harris Farms and other vegetables shops. Unfortunately, I have not seen daikon at supermarkets.
You can eat fresh daikon and you needn’t worry about calories at all as 95% of daikon is water. It also has a good amount of vitamin C, particularly near the skin. The most notable characteristics of daikon nutrition are enzymes. Daikon contains various enzymes that break down protein, fat and starch. That’s why tempura or grilled oily fish is accompanied by grated daikon.
When I buy daikon, I don’t think about these facts. I just buy it because I like daikon a lot. Daikon is the most consumed vegetable in Japan and obviously I am a typical Japanese consumer.
I don’t know about your country and region, but where I live daikon is sold as a whole, sometimes with the leaves intact. Because of the size of daikon, you may not want to buy it whole as you cannot simply consume it at once. But you can pre-cook daikon pieces (either in water or with a piece of konbu/kelp) and keep it in the liquid for 1 week in the fridge to use later.
Fresh daikon can be frozen. Peel the skin and cut it into discs or grate it to freeze. Make sure to wrap individual disc with cling wrap, then put them in a ziplock bag. In the case of grated daikon, store them in small quantity. When defrosting, leave them in the fridge or on the kitchen bench to naturally defrost or cook them straight from frozen state. Do not use microwave.
I am hoping that over time, I can post more dishes using daikon so that you can consume the whole daikon in no time.
If the daikon comes with leaves, chop off the leaves just below where they start, then store it in the fridge. It will keep longer without leaves attached. But don’t discard the leaves as the leaves have good nutrition.
If my daikon comes with long leaves, I usually dice them and stir fry with a bit of oil, then add soy sauce, sake and sugar. I cook them until the liquid evaporates. They go very well as a condiment with cooked rice.
If the daikon comes with chopped leaves and only the short green stems are intact, I leave it upright on a small plate or a bowl with water in it. It will start growing tiny leaves. These leaves are yummy, and great as a garnish or as an additional ingredient to daikon gohan.
Best Use of Top Part of Daikon
The top part of the daikon, closer to the leaves, is the sweetest of all as it is more exposed to the sun. The colour of daikon around here is sometimes light green. This part of the daikon is suitable to eat without cooking, e.g. salad or daikon oroshi (大根おろし, finely grated daikon). Enjoy the raw flavour and texture of the daikon.
Daikon oroshi is used as a condiment for tempura, grilled fish, and soba noodles etc. But it is also a proper dish in Japan, although you don’t really cook it as such. The simplest way to eat daikon oroshi is to just add soy sauce over grated daikon.
However, it is often topped with dried baby sardines/anchovies or nameko mushrooms (slimy brown small mushrooms). Pour soy sauce or ponzu (citrus soy sauce, refer to my recipe, Japanese Dressings) over it and eat.
About shirasu boshi and chirimen jako
I am going off the track here but let’s talk about dried baby sardines/anchovies. They are called shirasu boshi (しらす干し) or chirimen jako (ちりめんじゃこ) in Japan depending on the degree of dryness. Shirasu boshi is almost semi-dried, retaining moisture in each fish, and very tender. On the other hand, chirimen jako is drier and crunchier. Naturally, they contain good amount of calcium and you don’t need to cook them to eat.
Shirasu boshi is sold frozen at Japanese grocery stores. I found chirimen jako in a bag sold at the Korean grocery store. Here is the photo of the chirimen jako in the bag and the daikon oroshi with chirimen jako (finely grated daikon with dried fish on it).
Best Use of Middle Part of Daikon
When cooking daikon, particularly making simmered dishes, it is recommended to use the middle part of the daikon. It is the firmest part of the daikon and harder to break down when cooked for a long time. I have already posted Tonjiru and Oden which include daikon. Although I did not use daikon in Yosenabe, many different hotpots have daikon in them. If you were to pre-cook daikon to keep it longer, I would recommend using this part of it.
Best Use of Bottom Part of Daikon
The bottom part of the daikon is less sweet and more pungent. The best use of this part of the daikon is to make grated daikon as garnish, miso soup or pickles.
Today’s recipe, Rice with White Radish (Daikon Takikomi Gohan), is a simple mixed rice with daikon and aburaage (fried thin tofu). The rice is flavoured with dashi stock, soy sauce and sake. Unlike Shimeji Gohan , which I posted some time ago, I did not mix the rice with sticky rice. I think that daikon gohan is better with normal short grain rice.
The method of cooking is quite similar to shimeji gohan but the flavour is a bit stronger. This is because the daikon itself has a very subtle flavour, unlike shimeji mushrooms, and there is no meat in it so the rice needs more flavour to compensate for that.
Cut the daikon and aburaage into short matchsticks, place them on top of washed rice with flavoured dashi stock and cook the rice the Japanese way – refer to How To Cook Rice The Japanese Way. Simple as that.
When the rice is cooked, you need to mix the daikon and aburaage with rice so that they will be spread evenly. Mixing the rice also removes excess moisture from the cooked rice, making it fluffier.
- 120 - 150 g (4.2 - 5.3oz) daikon (white radish), 3-6cm (1¼ - 2½") long (note 1)
- 1 aburaage (fried thin tofu) (note 2)
- 2 cups hot water
- 360 ml (12.1oz) short grain or medium grain rice
- 415 ml (14oz) dashi stock (note 3)
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1½ tbsp light soy sauce (note 4)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Tiny daikon leaves (note 5) , chopped if required
Wash rice until water runs clear. Drain and leave in a sieve for minimum 30 minutes.
If using 6cm (2½") daikon, cut it in half into 3cm (1¼") thick discs. Slice the discs vertically so that you will have 3mm (⅛") thick rectangular slices. A few slices at a time, cut them in the same direction as the slices into 3mm thick, 3cm long matchsticks. (note 6)
Pour 2 cups of hot water over aburaage to remove excess oil, then squeeze water out. Cut aburaage in half lengthwise, then cut into 3mm (⅛") wide strips crosswise.
Add the rice in a heavy bottom pot, then add remaining Rice ingredients. Shake the pot gently and make sure the surface of the rice is level. Spread the daikon and aburaage on top.
Place the lid on and cook as per the steps 5 & 6 of the instructions in How to Cook Rice in Japanese Way. When mixing the rice, try not to damage the daikon pieces. You could add chopped daikon leaves at this point rather than scattering over as garnish if you like.
Serve in a rice bowl with chopped daikon leaves as garnish if using.
1. You need a 3cm (1¼") thick disc to slice.Then cut the slices into match sticks. Depending on the diameter of the daikon root, you may need two discs.
2. You can buy aburaage at Asian/Japanese grocery stores. It is sold frozen and usually comes in a pack of three. You will only need one so the rest can go in the freezer.
3. If you are a vegetarian, please use konbu to make dashi stock, which is described in Varieties of Dashi Stock.
The amount of dashi stock required may be different if you are using a rice cooker. Please follow the instructions of the rice cooker. Dashi stock + sake + soy sauce should match with the required amount of water.
4. If you don’t have light soy sauce, substitute with normal soy sauce. The colour of the rice will be a bit darker.
5. In the centre of the daikon leaves, you will find tiny leaves sprouting. They are the ones that I use in this rice dish. When you chop the leaves off the daikon root, place it upright on a plate or in a bowl with water in it. It will regrow tiny daikon leaves.
6. It is important to cut the daikon in the right direction. Do not cut crosswise to make the matchsticks. As the fibre of the daikon runs from the leaves to the tip of the root, the matchsticks will break easily when cooked if cut crosswise.