The daikon is a root vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family. Therefore, it is a cousin of radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradishes and other plants. This plant is native to Asia but is now common in many places throughout the world.
The different varieties of daikon are characterized by their many sizes and shapes. In some varieties, the root is elongated, similar to a carrot's. In others, we see a round root. What they share in common is the white color of the root of the edible part of the plant. Also, in all varieties, the root has a crunchy consistency.
When fresh, it has a pleasant, slightly peppery taste and is used primarily in recipes for fresh salads since heat treatment doesn't have a good effect on it. Daikons are preferred to black radishes because they are not as spicy and their flesh is significantly softer to the taste. On the flip side, its black cousin surpasses it in essential oil content. Black radishes are also believed to have more profound healing properties.
Composition of Daikon
Daikons are a valuable source of many nutrients and vitamins. The plant contains small quantities of saturated-, polyunsaturated- and monounsaturated fatty acids. Daikons are a source of fiber, proteins and water. They also contain calcium, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, manganese, selenium, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B6.
History of Daikon
The roots of the daikon can be traced to Asia, and more specifically - China. It's been cultivated in the country for thousands of years. It spread to Egypt, Rome, Greece, Japan. Over time, there came to be a wide abundance of varieties and species.
It solidified its presence at the dining table due to its crunchy flesh, which makes a fine appetizer for brandy. Plus, it's been long used as a remedy for cold and flu.
Choosing and Storing Daikon
You can grow daikons yourself or buy them from the supermarket. Daikons are a vegetable of choice due to their healthy substances but also their durability. In case you obtain a fair amount of this gift from nature, you can store it in a cool and dark area. If the individual fruits are put on straw, some distance apart, they can remain fresh for weeks on end.
The daikon is primarily eaten fresh. It plays an active role in the cuisines of numerous countries. In Japan, for example, it serves as a component of a myriad of pickles. In addition, it is included in some sauces. What's more, in the Land of the Rising Sun they also use the leaves and sprouts of the vegetable for cooking. In China, consumption of daikons is common as well. In local specialties, they are mixed with rice flour, eggs, onions, garlic, bean sprouts and others.
Other national cuisines love to use them for salads, which may contain carrots and cabbage. These are seasoned with olive oil or oil, with a little vinegar sprinkled on. This is, of course, the simplest way of serving the vegetable. It can also be combined with apples, oranges, beetroots, cucumbers, peppers, avocados. The resulting salads are exceptionally light and dietetic, at the same time acting as a real vitamin bomb during the cold months.
Benefits of Daikon
Eating daikon is healthy for a number of reasons. It has antibacterial and antiviral actions, being especially recommended during the winter months, when we are at high risk of cold and flu. The juice of this remarkable root vegetable contains enzymes. This gift from nature has beneficial effects for the digestive system and aids the processes it carries out.
The daikon has proven itself against constipation and lazy bowel syndrome. It's very often used for respiratory diseases since it facilitates the removal of phlegm that's stuck in the lungs. In folk medicine, daikon is given to treat bronchitis and flu. Further, daikon has beneficial effects on the kidneys by facilitating the removal of excess water. According to some folk beliefs, the vegetable helps weight loss.
It strengthens liver cells and shields them from the dangerous action of toxins. Numerous studies show that daikons are a source of anticarcinogenic agents, giving us another great reason to munch on this root vegetable. This vegetable is also believed to have beneficial effects on bones and vision.
Daikons are highly prized in Chinese folk medicine. Local beliefs state that it has even more profound healing properties than ginseng during winter. Chinese healers explain that in order for a person to be healthy they must eat daikons during winter and ginger during summer.