[Photograph: Frances Janisch]
Hiroko Shimbo's braised daikon recipe is one of the few strictly Japanese recipes in her new cookbook, Hiroko's American Kitchen. The dish is a simple appetizer of daikon "slowly bathed" in kelp stock and topped with Shimbo's spicy miso sauce. The sauce—a blend of aged miso, sugar, mirin, sake, lemon juice, and red pepper flakes—provides rich, tangy contrast to the subtle, earthy flavor of daikon.
Why I picked this recipe: I'd never thought to braise a hulking daikon radish; but given its size and density, this technique makes perfect sense.
What worked: Gently braising daikon renders it tender and subtly sweet, a perfect foil to the salty and spicy miso sauce.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: I'd be interested to try this braising technique with other types of radishes. The presentation won't be quite as dramatic, but the balance of flavors and textures would still rock. If you decide to play with different radishes, you will need to shorten both of the cooking times—remember, you want the radish to be tender but not turned to mush.
Reprinted with permission from Hiroko's American Kitchen: Cooking with Japanese Flavors by Hiroko Shimbo, copyright 2013. Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Spicy Miso Sauce
- 1 cup aged brown miso
- 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 cup mirin (sweet cooking wine)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- Braised Daikon
- 1 pound daikon radish
- 1 1/2 tablespoons polished white rice
- 3 cups Kelp Stock or low-sodium vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup Spicy Miso Sauce (above)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced scallion (green part only)
For the spicy miso: Place the miso, sugar, mirin, and sake in a medium pot and whisk until smooth. Place the pot over medium heat and bring it to a simmer.
Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat, add the red pepper flakes, and stir. (Extra sauce can be stored in the freezer.)
For the daikon: Peel the daikon radish and cut out 4 disks measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches thick. Place the daikon disks in a medium pot with enough cold water to cover them by 2 inches. Wrap the rice in a double layer of cheesecloth, create a sack by tying the neck with kitchen string, and add it to the pot. Bring the water to a simmer over medium heat, then decrease the heat to medium-low, and cook the daikon, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the daikon disks, discard the water and rice, and rinse the disks in a bowl under cold water. Change the water several times. Drain the daikon disks again. Place the kelp stock in the cleaned pot over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Add the daikon disks, decrease the heat to low, and cook the daikon for 30 minutes. While the daikon is cooking, mix the Spicy Miso Sauce with 2 tablespoons of the stock from the pot to loosen the sauce.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the daikon to serving bowls, and reserve the stock for later use in other dishes (like a base for miso soup). Using a spoon, pour the spicy sauce over the daikon disks. Garnish with the sesame seeds and scallion and serve. Warn your guests that the daikon radish may be quite hot in the center.