Japanese cuisine is one of the most recognizable and popular cuisines in the world today. Most famously represented by sushi, one of the most well-known dishes across the planet. Japanese cuisine is not, however, limited to just sushi. Ranging from hearty dishes, spicy condiments and delicious sides, there are a lot to love when experimenting with Japanese food. One of the more famous and tastier options among the snacks and sides in Japan is takuan, a fermented daikon radish dish. Takuan is rich in history, flavor, and benefits.
It’s a Radish?
Takuan is a form of Tsukemono or Japanese pickled veggies, that are served as complimentary side dishes or snacks. Takuan the dish derives its name from Takuan Soho, a 17th century Zen Buddhist, who is also the basis for Dakuan in the anime film Ninja Scroll. Takuan Soho traveled the world in the name of Zen Buddhism and was a cherished poet. His collected writings of over 100 poems are joined in six volumes. He was a big influence in Japanese culture across, leaving a lasting mark on Japanese swordsmanship, sumi-e, and shodo.
Korean cuisine has their own version of Takuan, called Dakuan. It is also prepared the same way as the Takuan with the pickling of daikon radish. Daikon radish made its way across to Japan from China about 2,000 years ago. Today daikon radish is the most grown vegetable across Japan. Takuan has become so popular that it has become a part of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. These radishes are usually consumed at the end of the meal, to help with digestion.
To make Takuan, first, the radishes are hung to sun-dry, and dehydrate. Next, they are fermented with salt and rice bran. This fermentation gives the radishes its soft and delicate texture, and their delectable taste. The taste has hints of sweetness, tartness, and saltiness. It a true pallet cleanser.
Takuan is quite durable, if stored properly it can last you quite a long time. Most forgotten and arguably the most important part of storing Takuan is blanching. When not bleached the Takuan will wither losing its color, flavor, and texture. A simple dip in boiling water for 1-3 minutes can preserve your Takuan, keeping it fresh and delicious. After blanching, place the Takuan in cold water, drain, and store it in an air-tight container or with some plastic wrap.
Freezing Takuan is not a complete no, however do not expect to have the same texture on your frozen radishes as you would on your fresh ones. Best stored in small pieces to make using and freezing easier, also smaller pieces are more likely to keep their form.
Takuan has shelf life determined by the ingredients used in the fermentation process. Some combinations, can lead to a shelf life of 7-12 months, while others list 3-6 months. Takuan can last a long time and still be healthy to eat, however it is very likely you lose some if not most of the crunchy texture and flavor.
Benefits of Takuan
Asian people have been using radishes and especially pickled daikon radishes for their pallet cleansing, and medical benefits. Known to contain a good amount of vitamin B3, vitamin C and free fatty acids, Takuan is great at detoxifying the body, boost the immune system and help you with weight loss and bone health. All these benefits from a healthy snack/side dish makes it a preferred option for most people in Japan. From its yellow color, complex flavor and health benefits, Takuan is another delicious Japanese dish worth a try.