There are some vegetables that fascinate me but I don't think I'm going to have a go at growing them. Top of that list is this large white person, the daikon, or Japanese radish. It's a daunting sight, that enormous white root 18 inches long. I always feel that growing long, straight carrots and parsnips is a pretty good effort, but I suspect daikon may well be that 'root vegie too far' for my heavyish, loamy-clay soiled garden.
One minute of Googling 'daikon' tells me that this Japanese word means 'big root' – and, well, slap my forehead and stun me into slack-jawed silence, that's a surprise!
What brought me to trying daikon was simply browsing for new flavours. I wanted to cook something with prawns (shrimp) yesterday, but something new that I haven't tried before. So I went browsing through my Asian cookbooks and found two nice recipes in the Korean section of my old, favourite Asian standby, 'The Complete Asian Cookbook' by Charmaine Solomon. One recipe is for a daikon and apple salad, and the other is for a green bean and prawn stir-fry. With steamed rice on the side, I had a dinner for two!
|The slightly tricky bit is dry-toasting the seeds in an oil-less|
frypan. Letting the seeds burn is the big boo boo, and
constantly stirring and checking them for colour is the
main task. Over medium heat, toasting takes a few minutes.
|The daikon itself is soft to cut, like other radishes|
and has a typically radishy zing to its flavour, but
it's not too hot, as some radishes can tend to be.
|Then slice the daikon into matchsticks.|
|And slice two spring onions crossways, finely,|
both the white and green parts being used.
|For the salad make the dressing in a bowl. It consists of light|
soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, vinegar, crushed toasted
sesame seeds, chopped chilli, salt and sugar. The flavours are
balanced but the lingering taste is, of course, of sesame.
|Toss the salad components together well, cover and chill in|
the refrigerator while you make the stir-fry (and cook the rice).
|One finely sliced white onion.|
|A blend of vegetable oil and sesame oil.|
|400g green beans, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal.|
|400g green (uncooked) prawns, each cut|
in half lengthways, then crossways, to make
the 'small prawns' the recipe asked for
but which I couldn't find.
|The sauce for the stir-fry, which consists of light soy sauce,|
sugar and those crushed toasted sesame seeds.
How was it? Yummy all round, I even got the rice just right. The dominating flavour in the daikon and apple salad, at first bite, turned out to be the slightly tart apple, but as the meal progressed that slightly peppery zing of the daikon worked its way forward.
The prawn and bean stir-fry was also very easy to eat.
Pam and I love to eat Korean food but we're not really interested at the ubiquitous 'cook at the table' barbecue which is what you find almost everywhere. Korean food has so much more to offer than that admittedly delicious barbecued fare. I also make the famous Korean rice and vegetable dish 'Bi-Bim-Bap', and I love their seafood pancakes and shallot pancakes, too. Such an interesting, robust, different cuisine!
And so, for the recipes, here goes
Mu Saingchai – white radish salad
1 giant white radishes
1 crisp cooking apple
2 spring onions
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon salad oil
1 teaspoons sesame oil
1/ 1/2 tablespoons mild vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon toasted, crushed sesame seeds
1/2 fresh red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
Peel radishes and cut into matchstick strips. Peel apples and cut into similar strips, and soak in cold water with a good squeeze of lemon juice to prevent discolouration. Slice the spring onions very finely, including white and green portions. Combine all remaining ingredients and toss with the radish, well-drained apple and spring onions. Cover and chill before serving.
Saewoo Bokum - green beans with prawns
400g small prawns
400g tender green beans
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 medium onion, finely sliced
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
3 teaspoons toasted, crushed sesame seeds
Method: Shell and de-vein prawns, chop them roughly and set aside. Top and tail the beans, remove strings and with a sharp knife cut into thin diagonal slices. Heat oils in a wok and str-fry the onion for 1 minute, add prawns and stir-fry 1 minute, add beans and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add seasoning and mix well, cover and simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes more. The beans shouldn't be overcooked, so take out one after a while to taste test it for 'doneness' and if it's ready, take it all from the heat and serve with steamed rice and the daikon salad.
Remember, both recipes are from Charmaine Solomon's best-selling 'The Complete Asian Cookbook', my old standby from way, way back. I've halved the quantities for the daikon salad (and even that still made enough for four) and I've changed the method slightly in the green beans and prawns stir fries.