Vegan: Japanese Simmered Daikon with Bok Choy and Edamame
Last week when I mentioned making chashu-style pork for my Tonkotsu Ramen (stay tuned for a full chashu pork recipe soon!), SE community member-at-large Simon remarked how similar the technique seems to one of his favorite dishes and left this comment: "One of my favorite dishes of all time, Japanese or otherwise, is Buta No Kakuni with braised daikon."
Simon—I totally agree. Simmered pork with daikon is one of the greatest dishes in the world. That said, simmered daikon with green vegetables is right up there along with it, and with no tough pork collagen to break down, it has the advantage of cooking in about half the time.
Slow-simmering the slices of daikon—that's Japanese radish—in a soy and mirin-based broth allows the sweet and savory flavors to soak right into the radish all the way through to the core. A slice of konbu (giant sea kelp) added to the broth adds a ton of glutamic acid, one of the key chemicals responsible for our sense of meatiness or umami. The result is tender hunks of radish with a slight crunch and a deep, rich flavor.
Once the daikon is cooked, you can use the same simmering liquid to quickly wilt some fresh baby bok choy or spinach leaves. I was debating between adding tofu or fresh soybeans to the dish to round it out, but in the end, the bright green soybeans won out (frozen beans are totally fine). Perhaps both would be a good idea for next time.
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About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.