A couple of days ago I posted a bunch of pictures of Bill making a soft shell crab maki roll. He made a number of things that day, including a dish we'd made years ago and haven't made again in ages. Since this particular soft shell crab roll included thinly sliced daikon as part of the assembly, Bill decided to make Daikon with Sesame Miso Sauce as well.
First of all, what the heck (you may be thinking) is a Daikon anyway?
It's a big radish. Raw, it tastes, well, like a radish. Cooked, it has a rather distinctive taste, kind of more like a turnip. It's used fairly often in Japanese cooking and garnishing. The one Bill bought was huge – about 3 inches in diameter and I don't even know how long the whole thing was because I didn't see it before he cut it up.
It's an interesting dish – the kids had NO desire to try any – they didn't even know what it was, but somehow they just knew it wouldn't compare to raw tuna and salmon. And they were right, because not too many things CAN compare to sashimi. But I digress.
We got the recipe from one of the several Asian cookbooks we collected at the very beginning of our relationship – from the Creative Cooking Library – Taste of Japan by Masaki Ko.
We used this book a LOT. Looking through it recently made us a bit nostalgic, and so look for more recipes from this volume in the weeks and months ahead. Pages are stained with food splatter (we must seem like the messiest of cooks, but honestly, only Bill is. hahahahaha) and the book willingly opens to certain pages just because we made those recipes so often way back when. I think it was a bargain book when we picked it up, and it may be out of print now.
So, let's make this.
Bill made the sesame miso sauce early in the day, just to get it out of the way.
For that you'll need:
a generous 1/3 cup red miso paste
a generous 1/3 cup white miso paste
1/4 cup mirin
2 T sugar
4 tsp ground white sesame seeds
(some notes…miso paste is made from fermented soybeans. The darker the paste – there are also yellow and brown pastes to be had – the more intense the flavor. We like the brown for miso soup. Anyway, you can find them in some grocery stores, and very often in health food stores. They come in little plastic tubs and seem to keep for an eternity in the fridge. And mirin is a sweet sake used for cooking. You can find that in grocery stores and health food stores as well.)
So what you do is mix the red and white miso pastes in a saucepan. Add the mirin and sugar and then simmer for 6 minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove from the heat and add the sesame seeds.
Pretty simple, right?
Okay. You can do that ahead of time or you can do it while the daikon radish is cooking.
To prepare the radish you'll need…
1 medium daikon (about 2 lbs)
1 T rice, washed (not cooked)
1 sheet kombu seaweed (about 8 x 4 inches)
(kombu is a form of kelp, most often used in flavoring stocks. It's purchased dried and packaged, and you just break it apart and use what you need. You don't rinse it off to clean it – that will remove a lot of the flavor and nutrients. Just wipe it off if necessary. You can find this in Asian markets and some grocery stores and health food stores.)
Clean and peel the daikon (if not already done) like you would a carrot or turnip. Slice into 1-inch thick pieces. Wrap the rice in a piece of muslin or cheesecloth and tie it with a string, leaving room for the rice to expand.
Place the daikon in a saucepan and fill with water. Add the rice bag and a little salt, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes. (The rice added to keep the daikon white while cooking and to draw off any bitterness.)
(Bill actually put the rice in tea infuser, which worked nicely.)
After that's done, place the kombu in a large, shallow pan and lay the cooked daikon on top. Fill with water, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. The seaweed is used to flavor the daikon.
After the daikon was cooked, we placed the kombu on a plate, arranged the daikon on top and then top with the miso sauce. (Or, you can wait to top with the sauce until you're serving it, which is what the book suggests. We only plated up a small amount of the daikon and put the sauce on before bringing it to the table to save time.)
We also surrounded the daikon with a bit of seaweed salad that Bill threw together. I'll check with him to see what exactly he seasoned it with, but it's a good bet he used rice wine vinegar and sesame oil with the two seaweeds. Anyway, here's the final image. The miso sauce is pretty thick – I actually thinned it with water just so I could try to drizzle it artistically (hahaha) over the daikon.
And there you go. A pretty simple vegetable dish with a lot of flavor and nutrients.