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Daikon Radish, The Big Root

Did you know that there are over 100 varieties of Daikon radishes in danger of extinction because of its lack of commercial value?

Currently, Japan produces and consumes 90% of the annual world's Daikon radish crops. If you have ever wondered what the Japanese do to keep healthy, well, they eat lots of Daikon radish!. They are traditionally served at the end of a Japanese meal, two thin slices pickled and sun-dried.

Daikon is the most produced vegetable in Japan. It origins trace back to the Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts. It was approximately 1,300 years ago that the Daikon radish found a home in Japan where it was popularized nationwide. Daikon is such a staple food in Asia that there is great dispute about where it actually comes from. Some people say Asia, others say Mediterranean and Black Sea. It can surely not be discussed that it forms a part of both culinary worlds in their own ways.

The Chinese and Indian Daikon varieties tolerate higher temperatures than the Japanese one. These varieties also grow well at lower elevations in East Africa. Certain varieties of daikon can be grown as a winter cover crop and green manure. These varieties are often named "tillage radish" because the plant grows a huge, penetrating root breaking through compacted soil which effectively performs deep cultivation making transfer of water and other important nutrients much easier for the root system.

Nutrient retention is another important feature of tillage radish. The large tap root is used to retain macro and micro nutrients, that would otherwise be lost to leaching during the time when the field would be left empty. The nutrients from the root become available for the following year's crop after the decay of the radish, which can boost yields and reduce fertilizer costs. If harsh winters occur, the root will decompose while in the soil, releasing early nitrogen stores in the spring.

The impressive qualities of daikon, including its low food energy levels and high nutrient content, make it a highly sought after ingredient in many cuisines. It contains high amounts of vitamin C, potassium and phosphorus. It has been shown to help aid in the relief of migraines by opening up constricted blood vessels. It stimulates the production of white blood cells which helps speed up healing and repair of the cells and tissues throughout the body. It also shows significant antibacterial and antiviral properties. In some Laboratory experiments, it has shown that its extract displayed a strong antibacterial activity against a host of diseases causing microbes. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, daikon is very effective in treating illnesses like respiratory issues. The excess phlegm in your respiratory tracts is a host to bacteria. Daikon juice not only clears out phlegm but also eliminates bacteria and other pathogens, keeping your respiratory system healthy. Daikon juice has also been shown to possess similar enzymes to those found in the human digestive tract. These enzymes can facilitate more efficient digestion of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. This can prevent constipation and increase the absorption of nutrients in the gut. It has also been known as a diuretic by nature, which helps keep the kidneys clean and functioning at a high level by stimulating the elimination of excess toxins, fats, and even water retention.

Research has also shown that the anti inflammatory compounds found in daikon juice, roots, and leaves can significantly decrease inflammation throughout the body. Antioxidants help boost heart health and reduces the risk of developing arthritis. It also treats gout and eases discomfort and pain from injuries and strained muscles.

As a staple in Japanese cuisine, Daikon radish is a versatile vegetable and has numerous applications both raw and cooked. Shredded Daikon radish can add crunch to a green salad or a bit of spice to a slaw. Julienned Daikon radish is commonly pickled with other vegetables such as carrots. Slice Daikon radish into rounds and bake at a very low temperature to make Daikon chips. The Japanese root vegetable can be substituted for Turnips in any recipe, and can be cubed and added to pot roasts or other meat dishes. A Japanese secret to cooking daikon is to use water in which rice has been washed or a bit of rice bran added to the cooking process, this keeps the daikon white and eliminates bitterness and sharpness.

In Japan, many types of pickles are made with daikon roots. Daikon roots can be served raw, in salads, or are frequently used as a garnish, Simmered dishes are also popular Daikon leaves are frequently eaten as a green vegetable. They are thorny when raw, so softening methods such as pickling and stir frying are common.

In China, it is also used in a variety of ways as in Japan but they have the peculiarity of making a tea from the root to aid in digestion. To rid the body of dairy build-up and toxins, Chinese herbalists would boil a mixture of Daikon and seaweed to be consumed as a tonic.

In North India, daikon is a popular ingredient used for salads, pickles, and as garnish. . In South India, daikon is the principal ingredient in a variety of typical foods in which roundels of the radish are boiled with onions, tamarind pulp, lentils, and a special spice powder. When cooked, it can release a very strong odor. This soup is very popular mixed with cooked rice to make a good meal.

In Vietnamese cuisine, sweet and sour pickled daikon and carrots are a common condiment in sandwiches.

In the Philippines, a sour stew may include daikon.

In Pakistani cuisine, the young leaves of the daikon plant are boiled and flash fried with a mixture of heated oil, garlic, ginger, red chili, and a variety of spices. The radish is eaten as a fresh salad, often seasoned with either salt and pepper, or chaat masala. In the Punjab province, daikon is used to stuff pan-fried breads. Daikon's seed pods are also eaten as a stir-fried dish across the country.

In Bangladesh, fresh daikon is often finely grated and mixed with fresh chili, coriander, flaked steamed fish, lime juice, and salt.

In Germany, it is used in salads and as a garnish.

In Senegal, there is a dish that includes an entire daikon radish, boiled whole and served with a panoply of local vegetables. Boiled, radishes take on a soft, wet texture and are rather tasteless, like boiled turnips. Because of their lightness, they provide a nice counterpart to a vegetable rice or a heavy sauce. Using radishes, raw or cooked, in the African kitchen is largely a matter of improvisation.

Improvisation is a good word to use when it comes to spicy roots like daikon. How have you enjoyed daikon?.

While I was researching, the Bangladesh way of preparing it caught my attention the most, so I made it right away and I most say it was delicious!. The lime juice softens the intensity of the daikon and the combination of fresh coriander made it for an extremely enjoyable experience.

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