Daikon no Nimono
Braised Daikon Radish
1 large or two medium daikon radish, enough to make 10 1-inch thick slices
1" piece of ginger, scrubbed and sliced into thin rounds
1 star anise pod
1 black cardamom pod (optional)
1 dashi stock packet‡ – This is also what you want to use when making miso soup, and is a great addition to many western soups as well. Be aware that many commercial dashi powders and stocks are made from yeast extract and/or MSG, and will be less complex in flavor (think vanilla extract vs. imitation vanilla).
A drop lid (this is called otoshibuta in Japanese), you can find them online, or can alternatively use any lid that is slightly smaller than your pot and fits inside. It keeps the ingredients from agitating too much, which keeps the broth clear as is reduces.
2 Tbsp shoyu* (Japanese soy sauce)
2 Tbsp mirin, (Japanese sweet cooking sake) or substitute sake if you prefer it less sweet
Karashi (Japanese mustard), alternatively sub any hot mustard
Pickled young turmeric or ginger
Toasted Japanese sesame seeds
Make the spiced dashi stock in a small pot. Gently heat the packet, ginger, and spices in 4 cups of water making sure not to boil it. Simmer for 15 minutes. If using only kombu you can follow the same instructions. Remove the solids which can be used again at a higher temperature to make a less delicate but still flavorful stock.
Add the shoyu and mirin to the spiced dashi. Stir well and give it a taste (you'll want it to be only lightly salty and sweet as the broth will reduce and concentrate).
Peel the daikon and slice it into 1" thick rounds. Using a vegetable peeler, round off the edge on each side so you're left with a smoother shape more like a bar of soap. This will keep the broth clear as the edges will be less likely to crumble during cooking.
Add the pieces to a large shallow pot where they can all fit in one layer, then add the spiced dashi stock, and if necessary, some water, to cover the pieces.
Add your drop lid, then heat the broth to a low simmer. Allow to cook for an hour and a half, adding a bit of water as necessary to keep the pieces submerged.
Remove the lid, gently flip the pieces, and cook until the liquid is reduced by 2/3 and the daikon are dark and meltingly tender, usually about 50-60 minutes more.
Allow to cool briefly, then serve in small dishes with some of the broth and whatever garnishes you like.
‡ to make this a vegan dish make the dashi with only a piece of kombu. In this case I recommend the black cardamom as the smoky aspect of the shaved bonito tuns (the other usual dashi ingredient), will be missing.
* If you're gluten-free try tamari instead of shoyu. Most tamari are made from only soy beans and are wheat-free.
Variations & Ideas
• If you can't easily find mirin try using sake and a bit of Noga N17 syrup.
• This recipe works for pretty much any sturdy vegetable, try adding other savory ingredients that braise well also. Some ideas: pumpkin cubes, chicken thighs, pearl onions, and a bit of Massalis. Bamboo shoot, shiitake mushrooms, and new potatoes with beef shank and a bit of Curcumade.
• I've successfully used this cooking technique for typically boiled dishes like corned beef and cabbage. I found Brussels sprouts and new potatoes to work great in this as they fell apart less than cabbage and sliced potatoes did. The daikon trimming technique is great for the carrots. Use a bit of stout to add some maltiness, and good quality allspice, coriander, and fruity chili like aleppo to add spicy accents.
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