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Daikon Salad

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This favourite of ours was inspired by Asian salads that became popular in Russia in the 80-s. Korean salad, as we called it, was made mostly of carrots with the addition of garlic, red and black pepper, salt, white vinegar (there was nothing else in stores), and sunflower oil (also the only option we had at that time). Daikon, Japanese radish (or just Asian radish, since it originates in continental Asia) adds festiveness and visual interest to this year-round dish. The recipe follows.

What you need:
1 medium daikon (about 10 in), thinly julienned
1 large carrot, thinly julienned
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lime
Sugar, 1 tsp
Cayenne pepper (or pepperoncini)
Vegetable oil, about 1 tbsp

Squeeze one lime over mixture of carrot and daikon, add garlic, sugar to balance the acidity, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, drizzle with oil, and mix well with two forks.
The salad can be served immediately or chilled for 15 minutes.

Dieters take notice: daikon is a very low energy food, 85 g serving contains only 18 calories! Low in calories, but rich in Vitamin C, also contains some calcium and iron. Daikon is relative to radish that is thought to help digestion through stimulation of liver and gall-bladder. So it looks like a very healthy addition to your diet.
The dish could be made ahead and refrigerated for a few days. In this case veggies release their juices and become soft, the dish makes a slightly different impression (not so crunchy), but still very enjoyable.
This salad can be used as a side dish for meat or fish, also goes very well on a sandwich.
The name daikon originates from Japan and means "large root". The variety called sakurajima-daikon that is cultivated in Kagoshima region of Japan, grows up to 50 cm (20 in) in diameter and weighs up to 50 kg (99 lb). It reminds me a Russian folk tale "Repka" ("Turnip") where an old man grew a turnip so big that the whole family together couldn't pull it out. The tale was not that far from the truth...

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