Get to Know an Uncommon Vegetable: Daikon Radish


Get to Know an Uncommon Vegetable: Daikon Radish

By Mark Zuleger-Thyss/Garden of Healing



We can all be creatures of habit at times, especially with food choices. It is easy to fall into cooking ruts after shopping steers you toward the same old food choices - carrots, broccoli, potatoes, onions – week after week. Explore the grocery store's produce section, and you just might find an uncommon vegetable like the daikon radish. Out-of-the-ordinary vegetables can yield an immense amount of culinary and nutritional benefits.

Some foods only grow in certain parts of the world, making them commonplace to those who live in that region and unrecognizable to those living continents away. Daikon is one vegetable more often found in continental and Southeast Asia and Northern China, where it plays a role culturally, ethnically, and in family histories. They have been a mainstay in Asian cuisines, appearing in dishes, including stews, stir-fries, and ferments. You can now find it in many North American grocery stores, although due to its intimidating and unfamiliar nature, you may have passed them by.

Daikon is a mild-flavored winter radish, and its name means “great or large root.” It is used frequently in Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, and other Asian cuisines. It is large and white and has a milder flavor than different radish varieties that can be quite peppery. Diakon is usually cooked (roasting or braising) rather than eaten fresh, but it is fabulous raw in salads. It is also commonly pickled.

Daikon radish is one of the easiest fall crops to grow. They require little upkeep and store well for winter. Daikon is considered a winter radish – it grows best when left to mature in colder weather. Accordingly, it is typically planted in mid-summer to early fall, depending on your growing zone.

In cold weather, daikon growth is quick and steady. Mature Daikon can grow up to 18 inches long and weighs 5 or 6 pounds. There are several varieties. Some are thin and long, while others are short and round. All radish greens are edible.

While Daikon is low in food energy or calories, it does provide a fair amount of vitamin C, and it is excellent for those on a diet. Daikon also contains the active enzymes myrosinase and glucoraphanin that aid digestion, particularly of starchy foods. Myrosinase and glucoraphanin, when combined, create sulforaphane. Among the many benefits of sulforaphane, it is known for its ability to reduce cancer risk and slow the growth of cancer.


Searching out unfamiliar foods like daikon radishes allows you to:

  • Explore new flavors and textures
  • Consume essential nutrients necessary for good health like fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
  • Add variety and excitement to meals, both in flavor and nutrition
  • Try new seasonal foods and expand your cooking repertoire
  • Discover foods that come from a different region or culture and learn how to cook them in a way you have never tried before


By seeking out uncommon or exotic vegetables and produce at the grocery store, you will be more creative in the kitchen and avoid falling into cooking ruts. Make a New Year’s resolution and try cooking with new vegetables, and you will have a ton of fun in the process.



© 2020 Mark Zuleger-Thyss, Garden of Healing LLC. All rights reserved.

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