Daikon is wonderful part of Chinese cuisine that has great number of medicinal benefits. This long, white, taproot is considered to be a mild tasting winter radish. They are less common in US markets. But if you manage to find some, don't pass the opportunity to try this wonderful soup recipe.
In Chinese medicine clinical practice, daikon seeds are frequently used in herbal medicine formulas as an aid to digestion. The root itself also has similar properties. According to some classic materia medica, daikon "strongly promotes the descent of qi, breaks down food, and harmonizes the center." Contemporary textbooks also note that it is used to "dissolve phlegm, staunch bleeding, relieve thirst, and promote urination." It is commonly eaten for stomach discomfort, poor digestion, coughs (particularly ones that produce lots of phlegm), all sorts of conditions involving bleeding (from nosebleeds to hemorrhoids), and urinary tract irregularities. Beyond these traditional uses, there are numerous reports of a long list of folk uses: to alleviate asthma, prevent cancer, improve one's complexion, control migraines, reduce high blood pressure, and cure hangovers, just to name a few.
Daikon soup is one of the most popular ways to eat this vegetable in China. We have seasoned the soup with ginger to further enhance its digestive benefits. Scallions and shallots give it additional "warm, dispersing" qualities that can help fight common colds as flu season approaches. We have complemented the daikon with carrots and snow peas to further "strengthen the Spleen" and promote digestion. Shiitake mushrooms, like most mushrooms, are said to "improve qi and blood, settle the spirit and sharpen the mind, detoxify and prevent cancer." Bok choy and bell peppers give nice color to this dish. Soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and mirin round out the Chinese culinary profile. We hope that the next time you come across this vegetable in your local market, you will take the opportunity to experience its wonderful mild flavor and surprisingly medicinal benefits.
Daikon Soup with Flavors of Ginger and Soy
Serving size: About 2
Prep Time / Cook Time: 20 minutes / 20 minutes
2 Cups Vegetable Stock
1 Ounce Soy Sauce
1 Ounce Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Ounce Mirin
½ Inch Ginger (sliced)
1/2 Shallot (sliced)
3/4 Cup Daikon (peeled, quartered lengthwise then thinly sliced)
¼ Cup Carrot (julienne)
¼ Cup Shiitake (julienne)
¼ Cup Bok Choy (julienne)
¼ Cup Sweet Bell Pepper (red & yellow julienne)
¼ Cup Snow Peas (julienne)
3 Scallions (sushi cut)
Bring your vegetable stock to a simmer and add your soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and mirin (sweet rice wine with low alcohol content). Please adjust these amounts to taste as you may prefer a lighter or more robustly seasoned broth. Add the ginger and shallot and allow to simmer until the ginger and shallot have perfumed the broth nicely, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the ginger and shallot. You will need to add water to account for evaporation during the simmering. Begin adding your vegetables in the order of which will take longer to cook, this will of course take into consideration the size of the cut of each vegetable and the fact we want the vegetables to remain a bit crisp. Assuming all vegetables are cut in a similar size, I would add the daikon, carrot and shiitake first, allow these to simmer in the broth a minute or two then add the bok choy, sweet bell pepper and snow peas. Simmer another minute or two, remove from heat, portion into serving bowls and top with the sushi cut scallions. For the sushi cut scallions simply take the green top portion of the scallion and run the blade of your knife along one side, then slice the scallion very thinly and at as much of an angle as possible. Place in a bit of water with an ice cube and they will curl up nicely.
The recipes on The Way are intended as an East meets West look at food and its relationship to health and nutrition. Food is powerful, and every bite can either greatly benefit your system or effectively work against it. In Chinese Medicine, each grain, vegetable, meat, fruit, and spice has unique properties that can be harnessed to help us achieve and maintain balance in our bodies. Our recipes seek to incorporate some of the age-old principles of Chinese medicine into the culinary practices more familiar to the West.