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D is for Daikon

December 1, 2013

DI’m guessing most of the people who read this are familiar with daikon, but for the few of you reading this who aren’t related to me or didn’t go to high school with me in Japan I’ll explain. Daikon is Japanese for “large”(dai)”root”(kon) and it is a white radish that is pretty ubiquitous in Japanese food. It is possible that our trip to Tokyo over the summer made this my first thought for the week of D.

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do with these, but once again after I started looking at recipes I couldn’t wait to start cooking. not surprisingly recipes using daikon require some different ingredients than recipes using carrots.

Last weekend as I was driving to my fifth grocery store trying to find some new ingredients I had mixed feelings. A combination of “It’s good to be back.” and “Why did I decide to do this again?”

The first recipe I made was a simple one. I guess I didn’t want to leave the carrots behind so I made a mixture of roasted daikon, carrots, and red pepper that I found on Sarah’s Cucina Bella website. They were pretty tasty and made a good addition to the steak and Hell’s Kitchen Mac and Cheese.

With Thanksgiving this week I wanted to make a side dish using daikon that would be worthy of sitting next to the turkey and stuffing. When I was researching carrot recipes I came across a recipe in the smitten kitchen cookbook for honey and harissa farro salad. The recipe calls for roasted carrots and parsnips. I decided to replace the parsnips with daikon and make this my Thanksgiving dish. Before I unleashed it on my relatives I decided to make the dish for our meal on Monday. One of the ingredients I was driving all over for last weekend was something called harissa. Deb from the smitten kitchen describes harissa as a “North African chile paste that has become so popular, we were tickled to find it all over tables in Paris two years ago, right next to the Dijon mustard.” I guess it isn’t popular enough to come to Minnesota. I went to three African markets and none of them had heard of it. I ended up making my own harissa using a recipe that she recommended on a blog called the Wednesday Chef. I didn’t think my version of this spicy paste was too potent. Kira disagreed so I went easy on it when I made the dressing for the farro salad. I added a good sprinkle of salt and pepper to my portion and the salad passed our Monday appraisal. The carrots and daikon didn’t quite work in my opinion, but the dressing was great and Kira and I both liked the farro grain. I had the dish as leftovers the next day for lunch and finished all of it. When I had the dish again on Thanksgiving day it tasted the same, but really didn’t seem to go with the other dishes.

I learned two things from my cooking this week. First I need to limit myself to 3-4 new recipes and second I should probably blog as a I go. With that in mind I am just going to sum up the last few recipes.

On Wednesday I made a dish I found called Daikon steak. The recipe I found was really just a description so I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I wasn’t sure how long to boil the daikon before sautéing it. I guessed about 15 minutes and that seemed to work out. With the melted cheese I knew the “steaks” would be a little heavy so I served them with some baked talapia and some brown rice.  I’d have to say this dish was the winner for me this week – which is not surprising since it was fried and covered in cheese. The daikon was really just a vehicle.

There were two other daikon recipes I had to squeeze into a busy holiday weekend. The first was a dried daikon and shitake mushroom dish that sounded very easy and tasty. My problem was that I couldn’t find any dried daikon. I decided to just shred some fresh daikon as a substitute. The results were…edible. It mostly tasted like soy sauce, but it was a little slimy and just didn’t look appetizing. I ran out of dinners to add this to so I just cooked it up on Friday as part of lunch. It looked a lot like sauerkraut so I added a brat to the meal; so it wasn’t a total loss.

Lastly I made some miso soup for breakfast this morning using the recipe from the Spoonriver cookbook called Tim’s Miso soup. The soup was good, but it wasn’t the classic miso soup I was expecting. I left out the cabbage it called for, which was a wise choice because even with this omission it felt like it had too much stuff in it. Miso soup should be simpler. I have most of a container of miso paste in my fridge so I will probably experiment with it a bit.

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I am pleased to report that even with the Thanksgiving feast and my traditional leftovers eggs benedict I still made my weight loss goal for the week. I will confess that I had to practically stick a fork in my leg to keep myself from going back for seconds on Thanksgiving.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Janet Koplos permalink
    December 1, 2013 5:20 pm

    I liked the farro salad. I agree that it was unusual for Thanksgiving, but who’s to say it’s less appropriate to eat that grain than the wheat in stuffing? And someone pointed out that we had a pretty unusual spread–substituting mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes was a surprise, but good. And nobody brought the classic green beans with mushroom soup and french fried onions (just as well)! Obviously I didn’t sample many of the daikon recipes, but I thought the roasted daikon, carrots and peppers was excellent, a great hearty winter dish.

    • December 2, 2013 8:39 am

      I liked the salad too, but as I was eating my meal I thought the flavors were quite jarring the first time I took a bite after the stuffing and turkey.

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