What looks like an albino carrot on steroids and tastes like a radish? No, this isn’t a riddle—it’s a description of a large, crisp, juicy Asian radish typically known by its Japanese name, daikon. There are several varieties of daikon, some of which are fairly mild and others that are spicier than red radishes. Shapes range from long and skinny to short and fat. There are pink daikon and green daikon, too. Daikon appears both raw and cooked in Asian cuisines from India to China. To try one of the ways daikon is used in Vietnam, check out our recipe for Vietnamese Noodle Salad.
Daikon is easily found in Asian markets. If your supermarket carries daikon—many of them do—it’s likely to be a variety like the one shown above. A good daikon should be smooth and unblemished, and it should feel firm and heavy for its size. Stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator vegetable bin, it can last up to two weeks. Peel daikon before using it, but for the best flavor, wait to prepare it until shortly before you need it. Though they’re often cut off at the market, daikon leaves are edible too; if you find one with the leaves still on (farmers’ markets are a good place to look), add them raw to a salad or sauté them.