Daikon (white radish) is the hero of this Simmered Daikon recipe. It is just a daikon cooked in a light soy-based broth. This is one of the simplest looking dishes, yet it is so tasty. A knob of wasabi is just perfect with the delicate flavour of Daikon Fukumeni.
Simmered Daikon is a lightly flavoured, simmered dish but the flavour from the broth penetrates even into the centre of the daikon pieces, making the daikon so tasty. The daikon is soft and easy to break with chopsticks.
Fukumeni is a Japanese cooking method. There are quite few different ways of cooking ingredients in broth or sauce, which are collectively called ‘nimono’ (煮物).
Fukumeni is the method of cooking ingredients in a lightly flavoured broth so that you can enjoy the original taste and/or the colour of the ingredients – daikon in the case of today’s dish.
Preparing Daikon for Simmered Daikon
There are no rules to it but Daikon Fukumeni is usually made with thick discs of daikon that are made by cutting the daikon root horizontally, then peeling the skin thinly.
The thickness of the daikon is about 3-4cm-1⅛-1½”. This seems to look best when served. The size of the disc can vary but anywhere between 4 to 7cm/1½ to 2¼” in diameter is ideal. If the daikon is very large and fat, the discs can be cut in half into semi-circle shapes.
Before simmering the daikon in broth, there are key preparations to do – Mentori (面取り), Kakushibōchō (隠し包丁) and Shitayude (下茹で).
I talked about mentori in my post Simmered Pumpkin. Some root vegetables tend to break around the edges when cooked for a long time. By trimming the corners of the vegetable pieces (mentori), you can prevent that.
The word ‘mentori’ means creating more faces because it creates more sides (faces in mathematical term) to the vegetable by trimming corners.
Today’s daikon is in a disc shape so you just need to trim two round edges of each daikon. It is easy to do with a knife, but if you prefer you can use a peeler. See how I do it in the photo below.
Can you see in the photo below the edge of the disc is round and no longer sharp?
This is an optional step and only required when you need to speed up the cooking process. When your daikon discs are thick and large, you may want to make a cross incision on one side of the flat surface of the daikon. See the diagram below.
Kakushibōchō, which means hidden kitchen knife, makes daikon cook faster and the flavour of the broth penetrates better.
Incisions need to be only ⅓ to ½ of the thickness. Cut the side that is not going to be facing up when serving. For example, if one side of the edge is trimmed neater than the other side, make the incisions on the side that is not neat.
I did not make incisions today as my daikon was not large enough to warrant extra cuts and I was not in a hurry either.
Root vegetables like daikon are often pre-boiled. There are different reasons for doing pre-boiling – faster cooking in the sauce, removing bitterness of the vegetables, and removing a strong smell and/or sliminess, etc. Pre-boiling ingredients for these reasons is called ‘shitayude’.
In the case of daikon, pre-boil the daikon pieces in either the cloudy water you get from washing rice or water with a handful of rice in it.
It allows the daikon to absorb flavours more easily, eliminates bitterness, and brings out the sweetness in the daikon. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until daikon pieces are all cooked through. Wash the daikon to remove sliminess from the starch before cooking in flavoured broth.
You can stop at this point and freeze your daikon for later use. I tried frozen daikon to make Fukumeni. There was not much difference in flavour but the texture of the frozen daikon was a bit stringy and spongy.
Broth for Simmered Daikon (Daikon Fukumeni)
The flavouring of the broth comes from dashi stock, light soy sauce, mirin and salt. For 500ml/1.1pt of dashi stock, you only add 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of mirin and ½ teaspoon of salt.
I use light soy sauce to make the colour of the broth lighter. But if you only have normal soy sauce, it’s OK to use it. The broth and cooked daikon will be slightly darker. If you cannot use alcohol, i.e. mirin, replace it with 1 teaspoon of sugar.
You need about 20 minutes to cook daikon in this broth.
Soaking Daikon in Simmered Daikon Broth
After the daikon pieces are cooked, leave them in the broth until they cool down. During this time the flavour penetrates the daikon. Daikon pieces need to be covered in the broth at all times.
If you have a jar that you can pile up the daikon discs in with minimum unfilled spaces, use it. Otherwise, I find that a zip lock bag does a great job. But you need to remove as much air as possible from the bag.
To vacuum the bag without a fancy gadget, do the following.
- Place daikon discs in a bag without overlapping, then add the broth.
- Close the zip all the way but leave a small opening at the end.
- Fill water in a kitchen sink or a large deep bowl and gently lower the zip lock bag into the water. As you lower the bag, massage the bag to let the air bubbles stuck inside the bag out.
- When the water level reaches the zip line and the bag is mostly vacuumed, seal the bag.
I use this vacuuming method when I want to store food in the freezer. It works perfectly every time.
Simmered Daikon can keep for several days in the fridge. If you did not freeze your pre-cooked daikon, then you can freeze Simmered Daikon in broth for a month.
P.S. Don’t forget to see the section ‘MEAL IDEAS’ below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and the new recipe in this post that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
Daikon is the hero of this Simmered Daikon recipe because it is just a daikon cooked in soy-based broth. This is one of the simplest looking dishes, yet it is so tasty with a knob of wasabi as a garnish.
Cook Time is long as you need to do pre-boiling for 15-20 minutes. But you can stop at this point and re-start cooking the next day if you want.
Use konbu dashi to make this dish vergetarian.
- 500g/1.1lb daikon cut to 3-4cm/1⅛-1½" thick discs (note 1)
- 2 tbsp rice or white liquid from washing rice
- 500ml/1.1pt dashi stock (note 2)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp mirin
- ½ tsp salt
- Wasabi paste
Peel skin of each daikon disc thinly, then remove the round edges (mentori) of each disc. See the section MENTORI (面取り) for details.
(Optional) If your daikon discs are thick and large, make cross incisions on one side of each daikon. The depth of incisions needs to be ⅓ to ½ through. See the photo in the section KAKUSHIBŌCHŌ (隠し包丁). This will cook daikon pieces faster.
Place daikon pieces in a pot (note 3) without overlapping, flat side up.
Add water with 2 tablesponns of rice or white liquid to cover the daikon pieces about 1-2cm/¼” above the daikon.
Bring it to a boil. Reduce to low and cook for 15-20 minutes until the centre of daikon pieces are cooked through (I use a bamboo skewer to poke daikon in the centre to check it).
Remove from heat and leave to cool a bit. Rinse daikon pieces and remove stickiness from the surface of daikon (note 4).
Place daikon pieces in a pot, flat side up without overlapping. Add the Fukumeni Flavouring ingredients.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, place a drop lid (note 5) on and cook for 20 minutes.
Transfer the daikon to a zip lock bag without overlapping, then add the liquid in the pot to the bag (note 6).
Remove the air as much as possible from the bag (note 7), seal the bag and leave it to cool. Best to leave overnight.
Serve (cut side down if you made incisions in step 2) with some broth and a drop of wasabi in the centre.
1. Diameter of my daikon discs were between 5cm/2” and 6cm/2"⅜”.
If your daikon is very large, you can cut each disc in half to make it a semi-circular shape.
2. Use konbu dashi if you are a vegetarian. See Varieties of Dashi Stock.
3. Since the recipe calls for just the right amount of broth to cook daikon, it is preferable to use a pot that can just fit in all the daikon with few spaces left over. This will allow the broth to fully cover the daikon pieces.
If you only have a large pot, I would suggest one of the following:
• Increase the quantity of broth; or
• Add baking beads or small mug cups etc. to fill the gap so that the level of the broth lifts up to cover the daikon.
4. At this stage, you can leave the daikon in the fridge and cook 1-3 days later, or in the freezer for a month.
5. Drop lid is called ‘otoshi buta’ (落し蓋) in Japanese. It is a round lid that is slightly smaller than the opening of a pot. It is traditionally made of wood but I have a stainless lid as well.
It is placed on top of the ingredients in a pot to ensure the heat is evenly distributed, cooks faster, and makes the ingredients stay in place without breaking apart. It also stops the liquid from evaporating quickly.
If you don’t have a drop lid, you can make one with aluminium foil or baking paper. Cut a square foil/paper, fold/cut the edges to make it a round shape with the diameter slightly smaller than the pot. Then poke the foil/paper with a knife or a chopstick to make holes in several places.
6. Instead of using a zip lock bag, you can use a container/jar that all the daikon pieces can snuggly fit in.
7. I don’t have a vacuum food sealer so I do the following to remove most of the air from the bag:
• Place daikon discs without overlapping in a bag, then add the broth.
• Close the zip all the way but leave a small opening at the end.
• Fill water in a kitchen sink or a large deep bowl and gently lower the zip lock bag into the water. As you lower the bag, massage the bag to let the air bubbles stuck inside the bag out.
• When the water level reaches the zip line and the bag is mostly vacuumed, seal the zip.
8. Simmered Daikon keeps several days in the fridge. If you did not freeze the daikon after pre-boiling them, you can freeze Simmered Daikon in broth for about 1 month.
9. Nutrition per piece. Sodium is high as it assumes you drink all the broth which is probably not the case.
serving: 203g calories: 54kcal fat: 0.9g (1%) saturated fat: 0.2g (1%) trans fat: 0g polyunsaturated fat: 0.2g monounsaturated fat: 0.3g cholesterol: 0.9mg (0%) sodium: 617mg (26%) potassium: 381mg (11%) carbohydrates: 8.4g (3%) dietary fibre: 1.7g (7%) sugar: 3g protein: 3.3g vitamin a: 0.1% vitamin c: 37% calcium: 2.5% iron: 3.7%