Sunday, 7 July 2013

Japanese Style Pickled Daikon





  Daikon is an extremely underrated vegetable. To describe it to those who haven't heard of it, it's pretty much a big, white radish, that resembles a long, white carrot, but you also see some short fat daikons - they are really quite strange looking things. Daikon is extremely versatile and adds freshness and crunch to salads and other cold dishes.   It doesn't really have a distinct flavour other than a very subtle hint of radish.


I can't get enough of sushi and sashimi, and when you go to a Japanese restaurant you often see some grated daikon adorning the side of the dish beside a clump of wasabi or some pickled ginger (which is another pickle I'd like to try to make at some stage! Any recipe suggestions?)  It also features in Korean cuisine, served on the side of Korean BBQ and fried chicken - it really cuts through the grease.




On one sushi outing to Makizo in Edgecliff, we ordered a side dish of "assorted pickles".  There were three types of pickles, all highly coloured in pink, green and yellow.  The pink and green ones were unusual to say the least, and I'm still not sure exactly what they were (I'll have to find out), but the yellow pickled daikon was a really simple, sweet and sour pickle that went perfectly with a bit of sushi.  



Making it is very easy,  especially if you have a mandolin to assist with the thin slicing of the daikon.  I concocted the pickling brine for this recipe after looking at a few recipes online.  The main difference between pickled daikon and other pickles, is that pickled daikon uses rice vinegar.  All the recipes require this ingredient.  I managed to find a small bottle of it at the New Yen Yen Supermarket in Haymarket.  You can really find any Asian ingredient there and it's suspiciously cheap.  The brine is also diluted with water, which differs from other pickles that I've made for the blog.  So this should lead to a subtler, less sour/tart result.  


Another ingredient that kept popping up in pickled daikon recipes is ginger, which makes the daikon match perfectly with the soy and wasabi that would usually accompany sushi.  Finally, turmeric is added for colour - daikon would be pretty boring on its own and colour is so important in Japanese cuisine.  



I'm yet to taste the results, as I have to wait a couple of days before eating it, but I'll report back next week.  Also I'd love to hear from readers if you have any pickling project suggestions! What should I pickle/preserve next? 

Pickled Daikon Recipe

What you need:
  • 2 large daikons;
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of salt;
  • 1 cup of rice vinegar;
  • 1 cup of water;
  • 1 cup of sugar;
  • 2 tablespoons of turmeric; and
  • 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, julienned.
The pickling process:
  1. Peel the daikons, and then slice them thinly into circular discs, preferably using a mandolin. 
  2. Put the slices into a bowl and then add in the salt.  Toss the daikon in the bowl so the slices are coated in the salt. Leave the daikon for about 2 hours.  Most of the water in the daikon should be extracted by the salt.
  3. While the daikon is being salted, put the water and sugar into a pot and bring it to the boil.  Dissolve the sugar so the mixture becomes a sugar syrup.  
  4. Now, add in the vinegar, ginger and turmeric and leave to simmer of a low heat for a few minutes to infuse.  Remove the pickling brine off the heat. 
  5. After 2 hours, strain and squeeze away the extracted water from the daikon.  This will ensure the daikon stay crispy and not floppy.  
  6. Sterilise and few jars and lids, and then place the daikon into them, really packing it in.  
  7. Pour the vinegar over the daikon in the jars.  Seal the jars up with the lids and refrigerate for at least two days before eating! 


24 comments:

  1. I always take those Japanese pickles for granted and never thought to make one myself but there you go making them. They look great! :D

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    1. Pickled ginger is done much the same as the Daikon. The trick is to get the baby ginger, not the mature ginger. It has a very thin skin and almost no fiber. Peel it, slice it paper thin, pack in a sterile jar. I just use cider vinegar and sugar with no water. Here in Hawaii everyone seems to put red dye in, but I don't use any coloring. Pour the boiling mixture over the ginger, let it cool and put it in the fridge. Lasts an amazingly long time. Try some on your next Tuna sandwich.

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  2. I love pickled daikon! It's such an underrated vegetable, as you say. New Yen Yen is fun but I tend to spend far too long trawling the aisles of Thai Kee above Paddy's. Their Japanese section is super impressive.

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    1. Thai Kee is also such a great Asian grocer. I'll definitely have to check out the Japanese section there too.

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  3. I made these a few days ago using your recipe, just tasted them today.. Yum! Thanks

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    1. Great! Glad they turned out well! :)

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  4. Hi great article on Pickling Daikon! Clever and nice instructions! We love it and was wondering if we could use a snippet of this article/pictures on our sight with a link back here. We run a Japanese Site called Pogogi. Let us know! Oh how did it taste ?

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    1. Hi! Thanks! Glad you liked my post. Sure, happy for you to use a snippet of the article as long as there's a link back to my website. It tasted really great!

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    2. Great! We just added a snippet of you article here: http://pogogi.com/how-make-japanese-style-pickled-daikon Let us of any issues. And good to hear it taste fantastic! Our readers will love it.

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  5. Looking forward to trying this recipe! Tell me, how long can you keep these pickles for?

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    1. I'd say you could keep the pickled daikon in the fridge for up to six months (if you don't eat them before then!)

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  6. Trying to make this recipe for a friend of mine...is it okay that the jar is not filled all the way to the top? theres is about a good 1.5 inches from the top (wide mason jar)? Is it okay to leave like this or should I move them into smaller bottles tomorrow

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  7. Trying to make this recipe for a friend of mine...is it okay that the jar is not filled all the way to the top? theres is about a good 1.5 inches from the top (wide mason jar)? Is it okay to leave like this or should I move them into smaller bottles tomorrow

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  8. Trying to make this recipe for a friend of mine...is it okay that the jar is not filled all the way to the top? theres is about a good 1.5 inches from the top (wide mason jar)? Is it okay to leave like this or should I move them into smaller bottles tomorrow

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    1. Hi Kellsey! Thanks for your question. It should be fine if you don't fill it all the way to the top, just make sure that all the daikon is submerged in the pickling liquid. Hope your friend enjoys the daikon!

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  9. Hi Im trying to make this for a friend of mine. Everything seems to have gone fine except that I bought a jar a bit too big. Is it okay that it doesnt fill all the way to the top? There is about 1.5 inches from the top. The jar is pretty wide. Do you think they will be okay like this or should I move them to smaller jars tomorrow? I will not see my friend for a couple of weeks...Thank you!

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    1. Hi Kellsey! Thanks for your question. It should be fine if you don't fill it all the way to the top, just make sure that all the daikon is submerged in the pickling liquid. Hope your friend enjoys the daikon!

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  10. Thanks for sharing this. It's delish!

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  11. Do these pickles need to be put in a hot water bath to can them? I've got about a dozen radishes, several are over two feet long and I'd like to preserve them some how.

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  12. Japanese and Korean pickled Daikon are quite similar.

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  13. I'm probably asking a stupid question, but is the sugar vital to the recipe? My husband is diabetic and if I can cut out the sugar (or replace it with something else maybe?) I think he would love to have a few jars sitting in the fridge to snack on. I've never pickled anything before, so not sure if it's necessary!

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  14. Hi! Yes you can substitute the sugar by grain syrup or other natural sweetener witch is much healthier and tastes better too. I do a lot of food processing and never use sugar or any refined artificial ingredients.
    I hope it helps! cheers

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  15. Thank you so much for this recipe! All the recipes I could find for takuan (pickled daikon) were very long and involved, lovely for making them the traditional way but I was hoping to find a way to sort of fudge it for a sushi party the next day. I followed your recipe with the following modifications and had great results: halved the recipe to use only one daikon, cut the daikon into strips, salted in a colander rather than a bowl. I brined them just overnight and the next day they were great! I did need to rinse them before using them to get rid of excess salt and turmeric. Thanks again!

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