As someone of Asian descent, I have a natural affinity for Asian cuisines. Growing up, I never really questioned the various vegetables presented at every meal because I've grown accustomed to them being incorporated into dishes; however, I was always alarmed by the vibrant yellow substance that would occasionally make its appearance onto the table. That's right– I'm talking about daikon. You might be wondering, what is daikon? Why is it so yellow? Is it safe to eat? Don't worry–what you need to know about this healthy radish is all here. 

What Is Daikon?

vegetable, pasture, parsnip, tuber, daikon
Becky Hughes

Surprise! Daikon isn't naturally yellow. This pale, carrot-looking vegetable is a type of radish that can be eaten year-round, but is said to have a sweeter flavor in the fall/winter seasons. Daikon (pronounced 'dahy-kōn') is a Japanese word that directly translates to "big root," characterizing its large size both in length and diameter. Despite its popularity in East Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, daikon actually originated in the Mediterranean but gained popularity in the East Asian countryside. 

Health Benefits of Daikon

Clagett Farm Share October 26 and 30

krossbow on Flickr

If you thought carrots improve eyesight, then these pale-looking carrots really take the cake. Daikon is high in nutrients, contains a high concentration of vitamin C, is a rich source of calcium, and so much more. Flu season hit campus? Eat more daikon. The high concentration in vitamin C stimulates the white blood cells in the body to boost immune systems. Trying to lose holiday weight? Daikon is rich in the essential nutrients your body needs without increasing calorie count or cholesterol.

Is your skin freaking out and causing trouble? The oils from the radish can prevent wrinkles and reduce the appearance of blemishes and aging spots. At this point, what can't this vegetable do?

How to Eat Daikon

Kristal Whitlow

In Asian cuisines, daikon is most commonly pickled and eaten as a side dish or added to main dishes grated, cubed, or in thin slices. When pickled, it gives off the notorious vibrant yellow color that some are accustomed to. Due to its various health benefits, it can be a great substitute for other radishes and the food prep is similar to a carrot. Because of the sweet flavor of the daikon root in the fall and winter, it's primarily served with savory meat dishes to enhance the various flavors.

When grated, daikon pairs really well with rich, oily fish such as mackerel. It's okay to eat it raw or cooked, it just depends on the flavor outcome that you seek. Namasu, a daikon and carrot salad, is a great way to experience the mild and tanginess of the radish. It also tastes great in homemade kimchi, a staple food in Korean meals.

Call it whatever you may– the Chinese radish, the Japanese radish, etc.– but it's all the same super-radish that can do more for your health than meets the eye.