This morning I went to my favourite shop, Renae’s Pantry to buy my groceries. Among the beautiful, locally grown fruits and vegetables were some daikon radishes. Now I don’t have a lot of experience cooking with these but I decided to rise to the challenge and bought one. (I also bought quail eggs so don’t be surprised if you see a post about them once I’ve figured out what the heck to do with them!).
Daikon radish is used extensively in Japanese cooking in pickles, condiments, stir fries and soups. It is also a favourite in other Asian cuisines such as Korean and Vietnamese.
As with other cruciferous (Brassica) vegetables, daikon radish contains sulphur-containing compounds called glucosinolates that have many health benefits. Glucosinolates and their by-products have been shown to offer protection from various cancers such as breast cancer and colorectal cancer. They also stimulate detoxification in the liver. These compounds give this family of vegetables it’s characteristic pungent, mustardy and bitter taste. Other members of this family include cabbage, brussel sprouts and rocket, to name but a few.
One of the most popular culinary uses of daikon radish is it’s use in pickles. I decided to use mine in a spicy, garlicky kimchi to help chase the winter blues away.
Daikon Radish and Carrot Kimchi
Makes 1 litre
1 daikon radish, peeled and julienned (if the leaves are still attached, cut them off, rinse and chop them – don’t throw them away)
2 carrots, julienned
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 birds eye chillis, thinly sliced (add more or less according to taste)
Small knob of ginger, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce (optional)
- Mix the radish, radish leaves (if using) carrot, garlic, chilli and ginger together in a bowl.
- In a clean one litre jar, mix the salt with about 500ml water and stir well until the salt is dissolved.
- Add the fish sauce to the brine and stir.
- Add the vegetable mix to the jar and stir well.
- If you need to, add more water to the jar until it reaches about 2cm below the top. Make sure that all the vegetables are fully submerged in the brine (otherwise they’ll spoil). Give it another good stir and cover loosely with the lid or a cloth and elastic band.
Leave your kimchi alone for 2-3 days. After this time, you should begin to see little bubbles forming as the fermentation process takes hold. If your house is cold you may find this takes a little longer.
Once it starts to ferment you can give it a taste and see if it’s to your liking. The flavour and smell should be tangy, slightly sour, and of course spicy and garlicky. Don’t worry if you’re hit by a wave of sulphur gases when you first open the jar – this tends to happen when fermenting cruciferous vegetables.
You can continue fermenting your kimchi at room temperature for several days to several weeks. The longer you leave it, the stronger the taste (and the more friendly bacteria it will contain) will be.
Keep tasting it every couple of days and once you’re happy with it, move it to the fridge where the fermentation process will slow right down.
Kimchi can be used in many ways. Try using it in place of chutneys and relishes for a spicy kick. It can also be added to soups and stir-fries but bear in mind that heating it will kill the beneficial bacteria.
A small amount of kimchi eaten on it’s own before meals is a great way to kick start your digestive juices and prepare your digestion for the food that’s about to hit it.
by Mel Duncan