Pickling daikon may take a couple of days but I promise it’s worth the wait. You’ll be amazed at how much umami and saltiness this Japanese vegetable can absorb. Plus, it makes a wonderful side to a steaming bowl of white rice!
Whenever I make pickles, I know they’ll go quickly because my husband Ben is a pickle addict. Asking him to wait at least two days before he can dump a pile of pickled daikon onto his bowl of rice is like asking ice cream lovers to wait until summer to enjoy this sweet treat.
Because it’s so hard to keep a jar of pickles intact in my kitchen, I can tell you this pickled daikon radish can technically be enjoyed after just 3 hours of sitting in the refrigerator. However, the flavor won’t be nearly as good so if you can wait for a little longer, do so.
When it’s ready, pour yourself a glass of cold sake and take a bite. Holy molly, garlicky but oh so yummy!! Spicy garlic meets savory in these umami-filled daikon radish bites, with a touch of sweetness that hits at the very end. The taste lingers in your mouth and though it is quite strong, it is also very satisfying.
What Is Daikon?
Daikon is a Japanese radish that is long, white, and has a crunchy texture. It’s unique from many other root vegetables because of its specific flavour profile being super sweet and peppery. You can find them at your local Asian grocery store. Japanese daikon radish can often be found in salads, soups, and other Japanese dishes.
Ingredients For Pickled Daikon
Daikon: Make sure you peel the outside part of the daikon well otherwise you may end up with very crunchy and bitter exterior. One easy way to find out how far to peel the daikon skin is to cut one end and look at the inside. You should see an outer ring that’s a bit whiter than the inside, which can sometimes be quite thick – that’s the part you want to peel.
Soy sauce: Regular Japanese soy sauce such as Kikkoman or Yamasa. Japanese soy sauces are more complex in flavor which is why I’m being specific.
Light soy sauce: I’m using a little light soy sauce because of its saltier taste. But it’s not absolutely necessary to use it. If you only have regular soy sauce available, please go ahead and use that.
Rice wine vinegar: Plain rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar can also be used.
Mirin: A little mirin to add some sweetness.
Garlic: One crushed raw garlic clove adds a little sweetness and spiciness.
Water: Some cold water to dilute the flavors and bring a nice balance.
Additional Ingredients To Explore With
There are more than several ways to make pickling liquid depending on what you want your desired outcome to be. For these specific pickles you can:
Add red chili to add heat.
Add gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes) to add smokiness and heat. If you love a good Korean side dish, banchan style, I suggest adding 1 tablespoon of gochugaru.
Swap the rice vinegar for white vinegar for a more tart flavor.
Add white sugar to sweeten the pickles.
Kosher salt or table salt for a saltier taste.
You can also use other vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini, bell peppers, or regular radish, for this recipe. The pickle brine works well for just about everything!
How To Pickle Daikon
Start by prepping your ingredients.
Gather all of your kitchen tools and ingredients.
Mix all the ingredients for the pickling liquid in a bowl and stir well.
Put the daikon slices in a large storage bag and add the pickling liquid.
Gently move the liquid around so it coats all daikon pieces and let the air out of the storage bag before sealing it shut.
Refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to 1 week for a stronger taste.
These pickled daikon radishes pair well with a variety of side dishes and are also really delicious with Japanese fried rice (yakimeshi), as a condiment for banh mi sandwiches, or as a topping for bibimbap.