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CERES Fair Food readers' digestibles are tidbits, tasty morsels of bite-sized info about what's in the box, with it, and outside of it.
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Fair Foods'

Weekly Digestibles

29 May - 04 June, 2012
You've just picked up your box and it's already dark. Rushing home to seek warmth and sanctuary with your familiars, you open your box to examine the spoils of your evenings' efforts only to find...

... a weird vegetable that looks like it would be more fun to throw at the unsuspecting than eat. But wait! There really is no better member of the Fair Food team more qualified to talk you down, and into cooking it up for dinner than Aki, our resident oriental radish expert.

Though it's used by South and East Asian ethnic groups alike, the main decision faced by anyone trying to use daikon is quite simply whether to:
A) use it fresh as a radish - pickled for garnish and/or grated for a salad
B) or to treat it like the root vegetable that it is, and chop it up for a soup or stir fry.

Joe Sgro's Daikon - Foothill Organics, Colac (152 kms from Melbourne)Aki believes the versatility in daikon's secret double-life can be partly explained by its anatomy. The bottom half of daikon is quite spicy like other radishes. When cooked though, the peppery flavour dissolves, leaving the flesh slightly sweet, as one would expect from other root veggies, like carrots. If you're not fond of its 'bite,' Aki says you should stick to using the top half for raw dishes.

Perhaps our daikon estrangement is really just a consequence of its association with Japanese cuisine, which is refined, delicate and, I'll say it, complex. Yet, Aki believes daikon is best kept simple, pickled as a substitute for horseradish, in clear soups, or julienned in a salad (Aki's favourite).

Daikon tip: A Japanese secret to preserving the daikon's trademark iceberg pallor and to eliminate any bitterness is to use water in which rice has been washed. Haven't got any rice 'flavoured' water handy? Add a pinch of rice bran to your cooking pot instead. It'll do the trick.
 
The daikon in your box this week comes from Joe Sgro's Farm, Foothill Organics in Colac (152 kms from Melbourne).

Just one more tidbit about another of our valued growers and their produce, straight from the press!

Fair Food Feasting

— The Fair Food Team

P.s If you liked this story and you think a friend would like it too, share the Fair Food love and pass it on!



Traditional Japanese Pickled Daikon Recipe

 
Ingredients
(percentages to daikon weight)
  • Daikon, dried
  • Rice Bran (15%)
  • Salt (6%)
  • 2 tspn Brown Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp White Sugar
  • 1/2 Chopped, Fresh Chilli
  • 3 long pieces of dry seaweed, chopped
  • Peel of 2 Oranges
  • Pinch of Salt
Takuan

Method

Radishes, like all veggies, keep well in the refrigerator if they are placed in a sealed container or bag to maintain high humidity. For this recipe, however, you want to accomplish the opposite effect. Unlike a brine pickling process, the traditional recipe for Takuan (pickled daikon) uses what you might call a dry pickling technique.

Wash and towel dry the daikon without removing the stems or cutting anything. Place or tie the daikon in an exposed but safe spot in the sun for 1-2 weeks. At night you may wish to bring it in like a stray cat to protect it from morning dew. Once it has gone bendy, clean it with a paper towel and cut the stems off at the base but put them aside, as you will need them again.

Roll the daikon across a hard surface, such as your kitchen bench, to knead & spread the remaining moisture evenly throughout. Pour the rice bran, salt, brown sugar, chopped seaweed, chili and white sugar into a bowl and mix well.

In a separate airtight container - sealable jar or bucket - line the bottom with a layer of the dry mixture. Add the orange peel slices and then the daikon on top. If you dried several daikon's try to get them in there with the least amount of gaps without cutting the daikon. If you're trying this recipe out with the one piece, you may need to cut it into sections to get the desired 'cramming' effect. Sprinkle the rest of the dry mixture on top, and then fill any air spaces with your leftover stems and leaves. Press down with your hands to eliminate as much space between the pieces as possible. Add a final sprinkle of salt to stop mould from forming and you're ready to seal it up.

After 3-4 weeks in a cool, dry place, pull your daikon out of their container for a quick rinse under water before using them as a garnish (sliced on top of sashimi or rice, or grated as an accompaniment to cooked fish), julienne in a salad or as tasty props for a dip platter. You can keep your finished work refrigerated and it will last a good while.

Note: if liquid starts to form don't panic, as it’s a normal part of the fermentation process. As long as there’s no mould, simply remove the liquid carefully & replace the lid until the process is complete. You can pickle in this way for months but this would produce a far stronger tasting Takuan. You'll find your measure by experimenting and taste-testing.

You can order extra daikon at our webstore
More seasonal recipes on our recipe page

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