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Simmered Daikon

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Slice and simmer daikon radish in a broth of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin for a soothing side dish. Enjoy it warm or chilled.

Simmered Daikon in a bowl, ready to eat
Simmered Daikon, ready to eat

Simmered Daikon

Have you had simmered daikon before? This dish is simple, and yet so elegant and soothing. Even looking at this dish makes me happy ^_^

Simmered daikon is served as a side dish and can be enjoyed both hot or cold. It's made of daikon radish that has been peeled and sliced, and then simmered a savory dashi broth for an hour.

The daikon pieces get so tender and soak up all the dashi flavor. It's an incredibly flavorful dish, and yet so unassuming looking. This is a nice dish to prepare at the beginning of the week, and then you can have a few pieces each day to accompany lunch/dinner.

What Is Daikon?

Daikon is a white radish that is popular in Japanese and Chinese cooking. In Chinese cooking, we use it for braised dishes and soups. In Japanese cooking, you'll see commonly see daikon pickled or grated (to top a dish), or served in oden. It's popular in many simmered dishes, like the recipe today!

Dashi is very healthy and has a light and crunchy texture. It offers a delicate sweetness and slightly peppery flavor. You can eat daikon raw (though we usually cook it).

We can buy daikon at almost all supermarkets in Hawaii. If you're on the mainland, look for daikon at Japanese or Chinese markets. It's sold under multiple names: daikon, daikon radish, white radish, and Japanese or Chinese radish.

Prepare The Daikon

Peeled Daikon
Peeled Daikon

To prepare the daikon for this recipe, first peel the skin of the daikon. I used two pieces of daikon in the photo above. Each piece weighs about half-pound.

Peeled and cut daikon. Each piece is about 1-inch high.
Peeled and cut daikon

Then cut them into rounds of even height. I aim for 1-inch pieces.

If you have a larger daikon, you can cut the rounds in half and make "half moon" shaped pieces.

Rounding off the top and bottom of each daikon piece with a vegetable peeler
Round off the top and bottom of each daikon piece

Next step is to "round off" the edges of each daikon piece. This step is a lot easier to do than it sounds. Just take a vegetable peeler and go around the top and bottom edges of the daikon piece.

Daikon with the top and bottom edges rounded off
Daikon with the edges rounded off

Ta-dah! That's what it looked like after each piece is rounded off.

The point of rounding off the daikon is twofold:

  • Aesthetics - this will make for a much nicer final dish.
  • Practical - the edges of daikon are prone to breaking off when simmered for a longer period. By softening the edges, you prevent this from happening.
Simmering the daikon over the stove in a dashi-based broth
Simmering the daikon

Next step: boil the daikon pieces in water for 15 minutes until the daikon is tender. This pre-boil step helps to reduce or remove any strong smell or sliminess that is sometimes found in daikon.

After that, cook the daikon in the simmering broth (more on that below) for an hour. Then reduce the broth until there's only about 25% of the broth left, and you are ready to eat ^_^

Ingredients for the simmering broth: dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sake
Ingredients for the simmering broth: dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sake

The Broth

The broth is a soothing combination of common pantry items:

Dashi
Dashi is the foundation of the simmering broth for this recipe. It's a popular Japanese soup stock made primarily from kombu (kelp) and dried bonito flakes. If you are lucky enough to have homemade dashi, go ahead and use that for this recipe. If not, just combine water with dashi powder. We always keep a jar of this dashi powder at home.

Soy Sauce
The foundation of the simmering broth is dashi, and from there we season the broth with ingredients like soy sauce. We usually use the Aloha or Kikkoman brand.

Mirin
The broth is also seasoned with mirin, which is a sweet rice cooking wine. Mirin shows up in a lot of our local recipes like Misoyaki Butterfish, Soy Sauce Eggs, and Okinawan Shoyu Pork. Get a bottle of mirin for your pantry if you don't have one already.

Sake
Sake is optional, but helps to round out the flavor of this dish beautifully. I usually keep a small jar of sake in the fridge and add a splash to the broth.

Simmered Daikon in a bowl, ready to eat
Simmered Daikon, ready to eat

Common Questions

How long does this dish keep?

It's great on the first day, but even better the next day! If you let the simmered daikon rest in the refrigerator overnight, it will soak up even more of the broth and become super flavorful. The dish keeps for about 3-4 days.

Eat it hot or cold?

I love it hot as a side dish, but this dish is popular served both warm and chilled (especially on a hot summer day). Ideal simple dinner: big bowl of rice, miso salmon, and simmered daikon on the side.

I sometimes also eat simmered daikon for breakfast! So good in the mornings. I just warm up a few pieces and eat it with rice and hot cup of tea.

Do I have to "round" the edges of each daikon piece?

You don't have to, but visually it makes a difference. It makes the dish look much more put together (for not much extra effort). Because daikon is delicate, rounding off the edges also prevents breakage and a broth studded with broken daikon edges.

Simmered Daikon Recipe

See below and enjoy ^_^

Yield: 12 pieces daikon / side dish for 3-4 people

Simmered Daikon

Simmered Daikon

Daikon radish, sliced and simmered in a broth of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin makes for a soothing side dish. Enjoy it warm or chilled.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes

Instructions

  1. Prepare the daikon. Peel the skin and cut the daikon into rounds (about 1-inch high). Then use a vegetable peeler to "round off" the top and bottom edges of each piece.
  2. Place the daikon in a saucepan (pan should be large enough to hold the daikon in a single layer). Add enough water to cover the daikon. Bring it to a boil, then cover and turn the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes.
  3. Drain, let cool and gently rinse the daikon pieces. Set aside.
  4. In a saucepan, add the dashi, soy sauce, mirin, and sake (if using). Stir and bring to a boil. Then slide in the daikon pieces. Put the lid back on, turn the heat to low and let simmer for 1 hour.
  5. After 1 hour, the daikon pieces should be tender and cooked through (use a fork to poke and check). Remove the lid and turn the heat up to medium. Let the liquid cook down and reduce so that there's only about 25% liquid left in the saucepan. Turn off the heat, you are all finished.
  6. To serve: place the daikon in rimmed plate or bowl. Pour the reduced liquid over. Optional: top with green onions or toasted sesame seeds. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Notes

  • From 1 pound of daikon, I usually cut about 12 rounds. If you have a larger daikon, you can cut the circles in half to make "half moon" shaped pieces.
  • I prefer this dish warm, but many people love it cold (very refreshing on hot days).
  • The dish even gets tastier if you let it rest in the fridge overnight - the daikon soaks up more of the broth and becomes even more flavorful.
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