What Are Daikon Radishes?

These pale root vegetables aren't as showy as some of their cousins, but they're plenty delicious.

Daikon Radishes

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Familiar with the small, bulbous red radish and love its spicy, peppery flavor notes? Consider tasting a daikon radish next. You'll soon find a new type of radish to love.

Daikon radishes are common in many Asian cuisines. Crunchy and refreshing, this radish type can be prepared in myriad ways—as kimchi, stir-fries, stews, soups, salads, or even eaten raw as a healthy snack.

Here, learn more about daikon radishes and how to cook with them.

What Is a Daikon Radish?

Daikon radishes are a versatile root vegetable. Daikon goes by several names, including Chinese radish, Japanese radish, and winter radish—the latter because this plant can grow in colder temperatures when other crops need warmer weather. 

In Japanese, the word "daikon" means “big root” with dai translating to "big" and kon meaning "root."

Daikon radishes are typically white with a long, tubular shape and green tops. They are often compared to a carrot, albeit usually more plump.

Native to Southeast and East Asia, daikon is a popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines, including Chinese and Japanese dishes. It is often prepared raw, pickled, or cooked.

What Do Daikon Radishes Taste Like?

If you're used to eating red radishes with their spicy and sharp bite, you'll find daikon radishes to be mild by comparison. Daikon has a hint of sweetness often with peppery notes.

This radish is a delight to add to a variety of meals to give texture and crunch when prepared raw. When cooked, daikon has an even milder and sweeter flavor profile.

How To Choose a Good Daikon Radish

If the leafy greens haven't been chopped off, then choose a daikon with bright, green leaves because this is usually an indicator that the vegetable has been harvested recently.

If the greens are gone, choose a daikon that is firm. Avoid daikons with bruises, soft spots, or if it feels squishy, as this is an indicator that it’s past its prime. 

How To Store Daikon Radishes

Store daikon radishes in a plastic bag, or wrap them in a damp towel, and place it in the fridge. Daikons will last for a couple weeks.

If you purchase with the leafy greens still attached, snip them and store separately so the root doesn’t go limp.

Not using the entire daikon for a dish? No problem. Store the reminder in a plastic bag, or wrap it in plastic, but be aware it can give off a strong odor.

daikon radishes in a zip-top plastic bag

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

How To Cook With Daikon Radishes

A versatile vegetable, daikon radishes are eaten both raw and cooked.

  • Toss grated daikon or mini cubes into a salad
  • Slice it into sticks for a snack as you would carrots or as a garnish for a dish
  • Pickle daikon or ferment it with other vegetables for dishes such as kimchi or quick pickled radishes

Daikon is often cooked to make a variety of stews, soups, and broths. This radish is also used for baking, so there are endless possibilities with using this root vegetable.

Don’t throw out the green, leafy tops. They can be used as a garnish. Toss them into salads or even a stir-fry. But be prepared for strong, potent, peppery notes.

Want to use the greens but want a mellower flavor? Cook them slightly for a more subdued flavor profile.

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