Kanako's Kitchen

Daikon-no nimono: Cooked Japanese Radish

Posted in Recipe, side dish by Kanako Noda on October 18, 2009

daikon nimonoA massively oversized radish, daikon is a popular Japanese winter root vegetable. Less spicy than Western radishes, daikon features in a lot of seasonal cooking, and boiling brings out its natural sweetness wonderfully. Today’s dish is a simple but deeply satisfying side: basically slow cooked radish with a bit of pork in a classic Japanese sauce.

Wait, pork? In a vegetable side dish? Actually yes, just a bit. Makes everything much tastier.

This is a basic (if under-appreciated) principle of Japanese cooking: almost every dish has some kind of meat or seafood in it, even the vegetable side-dishes. Usually, it’s a very small amount: more to flavor the dish than anything else. On the other hand, very few dishes are centered around a big piece of meat or fish, like they so often are in the West.

In other words, in traditional Japanese cooking we eat food, not too much, mostly plants.


daikonIngredients (for four)

  • Daikon – one full radish
  • Pork – 100 grams

For the sauce

  • Water – four cups
  • Dashi – 1-teaspoon
  • Ginger – a small piece
  • Sugar – 4 tablespoons
  • Sake – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1/2 a teaspoon
  • Soy sauce – 5 tablespoons
  • Mirin – 3 tablespoons

Preparation

  • Take one whole daikon and slice it into 8-10 cm. long segments. Peel each segment
  • Peel the ginger and slice it thinly
  • Slice the pork into small pieces

cut daikon peel daikon daikon ready

pork and ginger click to enlarge

Cooking

  1. Put the daikon pieces in a large pot and add just enough cold water to cover it. Set the pot on a high flame until it boils
  2. Allow the daikon to boil for 30 minutes until they offer a chopstick very little resistence when you poke them
  3. Drain the hot water, cool the daikon with cold water, then take them out of the pot
  4. Wash the pot with soap and water, rinse
  5. Return daikon to the pot and add the ingredients for sauce (four cups of water, ginger slices, pork, dashi, mirin, sake, sugar, salt and soy sauce)
  6. Bring everything to a boil over a medium flame
  7. Cook, covered, over a medium-low flame, for fifteen minutes. Every five minutes or so, uncover the pot, skim off the yucky scum that rises to the top as it cooks with a slotted spoon, then cover again
  8. Here comes the trick: cover the simmering daikon with two layers of paper kitchen towels, making a little dome. This allows the daikon to absorb the sauce better.
  9. Keep cooking under paper towels like this for another 40-45 minutes.
  10. When serving, do not add the ginger slices onto the plate – those are just for flavoring

boil daikon wash daikon Bring everything to a boil again over a medium flame

skim off the yucky scum cover the simmering dish with paper kitchen towels click to enlarge

For best results, you want to turn off the heat, let it cool, and then reheat a few hours later. So think about making this at lunch time to eat at dinner.

Usually, you would serve this as a side-dish in 1-soup 3-dish. However, we love this dish so much that we ate it as the main dish in 1-soup, 1-dish.

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12 Responses

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  1. caracaschronicles said, on October 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    OK, I’ll say it: this is my absolute favorite. I love the way Kanako cooks in general, but daikon-no nimono…wow!

    This is one of those dishes that improves with time. You can’t overstate the importance of turning it off, letting it cool, and then reheating it later. We had half of this for lunch today, and it was pretty good. Then we let it cool over the course of the afternoon, reheated it, and had a bit more for dinner. The second time was…was…a daikon orgasm!

    The radish just softens and seems to caramelize as it sucks in the pork’s fat and the whole thing just slowly transforms into this dreamy, light, succulent, tender wonder. Amazing!

    It’s probably wrong of me to pick a favorite. But this is my favorite.

  2. Jenn said, on December 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    It’s only the early afternoon here and I just finished simmering this dish. Can’t wait for the pot to cool down and reheat it for dinner tonight. I love daikon and all different ways to eat it. I am sure it is going to be YUM!

    Thanks.

    • kanako said, on December 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

      Hi Jenn,
      it makes really a difference if you leave Daikon sit for some hours.
      I hope you enjoy the dinner!

  3. Milly said, on May 5, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    You’re the one with the brains here. I’m watihcng for your posts.

  4. John said, on August 28, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Hello Kanako-san. I was wondering if I could use beef instead of pork for this dish.

    • kanako said, on August 31, 2012 at 8:06 am

      Hi John-san, I’ve never tried with beef, but I don’t think there’s a problem with it. The taste will be slightly different.

  5. walter said, on July 12, 2013 at 1:15 am

    i have a question about the pork. what form do i cook it in? thinly sliced?

  6. Jonny said, on March 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

    “In other words, in traditional Japanese cooking we eat bland food, not too much flavour, mostly off colour plants.” FTFY.

    • Lucy said, on March 25, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      Seriously, just because you’re not used to the flavour of Japanese food doesn’t mean you can go harass people and their culture on the Internet. People like you are just plain stupid.

      I love daikon and pork, they go very well together.

      Kanako-san, I hope you will continue to post new recipes some day, so we can have a better insight at Japanese food! Thanks for your effort!

    • Arrow Bast said, on November 1, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      LMFAO , you don’t have spew out your small mindedness here . Maybe that’s the reason most japs have healthy BMI compared to US Americans – the mostly bland food that prevents you from overfeasting. And Japanese food is not necessarily bland – Wasabi or Yuzu Kosho are hardly bland seasonings.

  7. Kare said, on March 6, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Made this a couple of weeks ago, it was delish! Making again tomorrow.

  8. Karen said, on May 5, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Making this yet again today, it has quickly become one of our favorite Japanese side dishes. Thank you for the recipe.


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