Simmered Daikon with Shitake Mushrooms

3/31/20 NOTE: If you are using WINTER MELON from Radical Family Farms March 2020 produce box instead of daikon, I add instructions at the end on how to prepare the melon and the cooking time. No pics yet though sorry!

In our house this dish is just called “daikon” because it is our absolute favorite and shows up on our dinner table at least once a week. It works perfectly as a main for simple meals or as a side dish for larger spreads. The brilliant thing about this recipe is that it can be used with many different types of root vegetables. The only thing you would have to change is the cooking time depending on the vegetable. Daikon is one of my favorite vegetables but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It can be eaten raw, par cooked, or stewed to oblivion- in fact there is no oblivion. Once my husband Chris did a slow cooked pork shoulder with daikon, cooked it for 4 hours and even though the daikon was tender inside, the shape was still intact AND it still had an al dente bite! Eaten raw daikon is crunchy and watery like jicama but can be very bitter with a slight sweetness. When you cook it through, it does loose some of its bitterness as the sweetness goes up, but that depends on the variety. I find many Korean varieties tend to be on the more bitter side.

This dish uses a base liquid of broth, sake & soy sauce to simmer the daikon. It also contains minced shiitake mushrooms and, for meat eaters, minced pork or chicken. We are 90% vegetarian and very rarely eat meat, but on the rare occasion, the minced meat is a lovely addition. And of course sprinkled with some chopped green onion….because you’ve just got to! Eat this dish with some steamed rice to soak up the sauce! If daikon is not your thing, I would also try this recipe with winter melon, kolrabi or lotus root (if you can get your hands on them).

Simmered Daikon with Shitake Mushrooms

serves 3-4 as a main (5-6 as a side)

1 medium-large daikon radish, about 2lb, cut into 1.5-2 inch cubes or wedges

5 shitake mushrooms, minced, fresh or dried. If dried, reconstitute in boiling water for 30 minutes or until soft.

1/2lb Ground Pork or Chicken (optional)

1 inch knob Ginger, peeled and minced

2 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced

2 Green Onions, chopped

1 cup Broth (or Water)

4T Sake (or Sherry)

4T Light Soy Sauce

1T Corn Starch + 2T Water

A drizzle of Sesame Oil

Start by cutting your daikon into 1.5in cubes or wedges. My friends in Japan will kill me for saying this but I don’t peel them. The skin contains double the amount of nutrients than than the actual flesh itself. Start by quartering your daikon lengthwise then chopping into cubes or wedges. Chris loves chunky cubes so that’s how we have it. I’ll eat daikon however I can get it.

Prepare the garlic and ginger as described.

In a wide shallow pot or wok (with lid), heat some canola oil on medium-high heat and cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. If you are using meat, add it now. Break it up in the wok and stir fry it until it changes color. Then toss in the daikon pieces, ensuring that all the pieces are coated in the oil. Do this for about 2-3 minutes.

Next add in your cup of broth or water and the sake or sherry. Bring everything to a boil, then immediately turn it down to a low simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, take off the lid, add in the soy sauce, mix it in thoroughly, then replace the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Next, add in the minced shiitake mushrooms and let them simmer gently in the daikon for a few minutes uncovered.

Blend the cornstarch and water mixture in a separate bowl then add to the daikon. Turn up the eat to bring it to a high simmer, stirring until the sauce thickens to a silky gravy.

Take the wok off the heat, toss in the chopped green onions and stir them in. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and enjoy!

USING WINTER MELON

Winter Melon is extremely mild in flavor with a very subtle sweetness to it lending itself well to both savory and sweet dishes. It is perfect for soups and sauce-heavy dishes as they absorb flavor beautifully without being overwhelmed by it.

If you want to swap out daikon for winter melon, you’ll need 1 small to medium melon or half of one large melon.

Start by cutting away the rind. Much like peeling a watermelon, you can’t really use a peeler for this without having to go through several layers as the rind is quite thick. I use a knife but feel free to use a peeler if yours is sharp enough and you’ve got some time to kill. If using a knife, cut the melon width wise into 2inch wide round disks of melon with an outer ring of skin. Lay each disk flat and using the knife cut away the rind from the outer edge following the curve of the melon. Again, imagine you are wanting to cut away the skin of a watermelon.

Once skinned, cut out the seeds and the spongy white center. You want to be left with only the firm white flesh. Cut the melon into 1.5 inch cubes and set to the side.

Using the same ingredients, follow the same directions as above, swapping out daikon for winter melon. I’ve cut and pasted the cooking directions below to adjust the cooking time:

In a wide shallow pot or wok (with lid), heat some canola oil on medium-high heat and cook the ginger and garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute. If you are using meat, add it now. Break it up in the wok and stir fry it until it changes color.

Then toss in the winter melon pieces, ensuring that all the pieces are coated in the oil.

Next add in your cup of broth or water, the sake or sherry and the soy sauce. Bring everything to a boil, then immediately turn it down to a low, cover it and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Next, add the minced shiitake mushrooms and let them simmer gently uncovered for about 3-4 minutes.

Blend the cornstarch and water mixture in a separate bowl then add to the wok. Turn up the eat to bring it to a high simmer, stirring until the sauce thickens to a silky gravy.

Take the wok off the heat, toss in the chopped green onions and stir them in. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with sesame oil and enjoy!

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