Daikon Radish: Moving from Summer to Fall to Winter

The transitions from the big seasons to the little seasons are the most important times to be kind to the body and to support the digestive system; this means that September and March are great opportunities to take better care as the body prepares for a major shift in weather.

In Autumn we begin to draw a bit more inwards, though still have spurts of warm days and summer like energy. Take this chance to explore a food that bridges summer to fall: daikon radish.

Daikon literally means “big radish” in Japanese. This pungent, spicy food contains many benefits:

  • Grated daikon provides many of the digestive enzymes already present in our system to break down namely fats, complex carbohydrates and proteins.
  • Daikon prevents the formation of carcinogens namely found in processed foods and meats (this is why it is traditionally served with sushi and tempura in Japanese restaurants).
  • Daikon is a diuretic and a decongestant, reducing inflammation or edema as it increases urine production, stimulating the kidneys, while also breaking down mucus in the chest, freeing the lungs from common fall allergies.
  • Lastly, daikon when eaten with beta-carotene based foods (like sweet potatoes and carrots) improves the body’s ability to absorb this nutrient which is key in fighting SAD (seasonal affected depression) common in the latter months of the year.

Daikon peaks in the fall months, but can be found at any time in most health stores. Try this simple recipe adapted from Bahn Mi, the Vietnamese recipe that I’ve tweaked to include healthier ingredients and Ayurvedic fall spices. This dish can be eaten as you would a cole slaw, pickle or side dish.

DAIKON CARROT PICKLE (Bahn Mi in Vietnamese)

2 medium carrots

1 large daikon radish

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sucanat or turbinado sugar

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar

pinches of: turmeric, cumin, cayenne, coriander, sea salt

1 clean quart sized glass jar with lid

Directions:

Scrub carrots and daikon well, do not peel (most nutrients are in outer layers). Grate with medium sized holes on grater or julienne with a mandoline or a very patient knife. This should yield about 3+ cups of carrot/daikon. Add a teaspoon of sea salt and place aside.

Bring to a boil the water, rice vinegar, sweetener and spices of choice. Be liberal with the turmeric and cumin and/or coriander, use cayenne to taste. Once boiled, turn off to cool to room temperature.

Once mixture has cooled, add 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar and stir. Place vegetables in the clean jar and pour liquid over until all carrot and daikon is covered.

Refrigerate immediately. Wait at least 1 hour before eating, but the longer the better. This recipe gets better over time and will last about a month or so. Experiment with levels of spice and other spices like ginger or changing the ratio of carrots to daikon.

*PS: you can quickly stir fry the daikon tops like you would chard or spinach, they have a slight peppery taste and are great with fish and/or  fall grains.

About Kimberly Russell

A student of yoga since 1995, Kimberly has studied and taught in New York, Spain and southern India. She holds advanced international TUV ISO 9001 certifications in Yoga, Yoga Therapy and Ayurvedic Nutrition. Kimberly also holds a Masters in Education and a Masters in Health and Fitness as a Nationally certified Nutritional Counselor specializing in traditional Eastern and Western philosophies. 

 Kimberly’s unique approach is to blend the values of traditional practices with the pace of modern life. This results in a stronger body and mind with appreciation for each individuals preferences and lifestyle practices.
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2 Responses to Daikon Radish: Moving from Summer to Fall to Winter

  1. Tajender says:

    You have mentioned that Daikon is a diuretic and a decongestant, reducing inflammation or edema as it increases urine production, stimulating the kidneys, while also breaking down mucus in the chest.
    If Diakon is served in parathas (peeled, grated and its juice eliminated), will it serve the same purpose of breaking down mucus in the chest.

    • Thank you for your question. The effects of daikon as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory lie mostly in the freshly grated, raw juices and pulp. The best effects come by grating a small amount (1 Tbsp) and eating it immediately. If you add it to a paratha which is traditionally made with wheat flour, the wheat flour is in itself a food that often causes mucus, inflammation and congestion, so they would be canceling each other out at best.

      My suggestion is to eat a portion of raw daikon for its benefits and only add it to your parathas as a flavor preference. Also consider consuming less wheat and flour products if mucus, congestion and inflammation are a concern for you.

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