Monday, July 25, 2011

Delicious (and easy peasy) Daikon Salad

I’ve been promising this recipe to the nice gentleman who works at Hong Phat, my favorite local Asian market. I find the most wonderful food at Hong Phat – a ton of wheat- & corn-free noodles to choose from, scads of tasty fresh produce like snow peas, jicama, green onions, basil, AND daikon radishes.

For those of us who were brought up on cute little round red radishes, the daikon radish is the Godzilla of radishes, but not in a nuclear catastrophe-inspired demolition kind of way. The daikon radish is just plain big. Real big. Godzilla-type big, if you get my meaning.

There are a couple different varieties I’ve found in our local Asian markets – Hong Phat carries the long cylindrical daikons, maybe 3-4 inches in diameter, and anywhere from 1 to 3 feet (!!!) long sometimes, while Arirang carries a shorter, chunkier version, maybe 6-8 inches in diameter, and 10-12 inches long. Daikon radishes at both stores have white skin, and usually a small amount of green at the top.

Daikon radish is great peeled and cut into chunks for snacking (just ask Oofie – he LOVES him some daikon, lol), and is also terrific in stir-fries and soups. Daikon is also delicious in salads – the easy recipe below features daikon as the main ingredient, but I also make an Asian coleslaw, with shredded cabbage, carrots, daikon, and chopped green onions, topped with Moosewood’s Ginger Miso Dressing.

This recipe is from Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special, a book which I highly recommend to everyone who likes food, especially soups & salads. Daily Special is packed with fabulous and tasty recipes, and is one of my most-referred-to cookbooks.

Don't be tempted to take a short cut and omit pouring the hot oil over the scallions/green onions- that's what really makes this dish so yummy!

Pilwun’s Daikon Salad, p. 282, Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special
Serves: 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Draining time: 30 minutes

2 pounds daikon
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 carrot
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
dash of dark sesame oil
3 scallions or green onions
2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil

Trim the ends of the daikon, peel, and coarsely grate it. (A food processor makes this go so much faster!)

In a colander set into a larger bowl, toss the grated daikon with the salt. Set aside to drain for 20-30 minutes, until about a cup of liquid has collected in the bowl. (Squeezing some of the liquid out of the daikon from time to time will speed up the process.)

Meanwhile, peel and coarsely grate the carrot and place it in a serving bowl. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, vinegar, and sesame oil and set aside. When the daikon is well drained, stir it into the carrots. Add the vinegar mixture and toss well.

Slice the scallions thinly on the diagonal and mound them on top of the salad. Heat the vegetable oil until smoking and immediately pour it over the scallions – this will make a sizzling sound. Toss well.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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