Get a lot of energy from sprouts!

Kaiware daikon is the Japanese name for new shoots of the Japanese radish. Daikon (Japanese radish) has long been grown in Japan. It’s believed that the Japanese began eating kaiware daikon in the Heian period (794-1185). Kaiware daikon used to be considered a luxury food because it was cultivated by hand planting each radish. These radish sprouts became more widely used after commercial hydroponics was successfully developed in the early 1960s. It quickly became a familiar vegetable, appearing on the dinner tables of general households. This vegetable has a unique pungent flavor and provides detoxifying and disinfecting effects. Kaiware daikon is essential in Japanese cuisine as a garnish to sashimi and an addition to makimono (sushi rolls) and salads.

Kaiware daikon led the way in the introduction of sprouts as a food ingredient. Daikon radish sprouts are usually grown hydroponically. Because the daikon radish seed uses only its own nutrients to germinate, kaiware daikon is grown without added chemicals. Kaiware daikon cannot be labeled as an organic vegetable because it isn’t grown in regular agricultural fields. Still, there is no need to worry about the use of pesticides, so you only have to rinse these radish sprouts lightly before eating them.

Because plants generate huge amounts of energy during germination, sprouts are packed with naturally produced nutrients. They provide perfect nutrition. Kaiware daikon is rich in vitamins and minerals. In particular, it contains an amazing amount of beta carotene. Vitamin A helps mucous membranes function properly, stopping the advancement of the common cold and other viruses that might attach to cells lining the mucous membranes. These daikon sprouts are also rich in vitamin Bs (vitamins Bl, B2, and B6) and vitamin C, which are ideal for relief from fatigue. These ingredients will help keep your skin healthy, too. Kaiware daikon can be eaten raw, so you can ingest all the soluble vitamin Bs. Radish sprouts are high in melatonin, vitamin C and K, iron and food fiber.

The pungency you feel on the tongue when eating kaiware daikon is unique to the daikon radish, which contains isothiocyanate. This ingredient provides detoxifying, anti-oxidant, and disinfecting effects. These effects are magnified the more you chew on kaiware. You can also expect this radish sprout to increase your appetite.

Some may have the impression that kaiware daikon is grown only in Japan, but these radish sprouts are also cultivated in the United States. California sprout production facility, Fuji Natural Foods, where bean sprouts, kaiware daikon and other sprouts are grown. The grower told me that 30 years ago he looked for land with abundant,
high-quality underground water, built a facility in Ontario, California, and began sprout production. Because kaiware daikon is grown hydroponically, there is no need for pesticides and chemical fertilizers. However, the growers must use great care to control insects and bacteria.

Because kaiware daikon is shipped with its roots anchored in the sponge, it continues to grow even on the store shelf as long as it is exposed to light. Therefore, the radish sprouts are allowed to grow to about half the desired height before they’re shipped to the East Coast or other distant locations. By the time the sprouts reach the store shelves, they have grown to just about the right height.

When you store kaiware daikon at home, you should keep it upright, because the radish sprouts always grow upward. If the sprout package is stored on its side, the sprouts will start to grow into a strange shape. You should store kaiware daikon in the original package in the refrigerator and consume it as soon as possible.

Tips

Choose kaiware daikon with darker green leaves and firm, crisp stems that extend straight out.

To use kaiware daikon, cut off and remove the sponge at the roots of the sprouts and rinse the seed shells from the roots with running water. Soak the sprouts in ice water to make them crisp, and then drain the water and wipe well. If the kaiware daikon you bought is rather short, you can leave it at normal temperature for a day. The sprouts will grow with surprising speed.

How to cook kaiware daikon (radish sprouts recipes)

Double Radish Salad Recipe


Kaiware-salad(Gochiso)

Ingredients (Serves 2)

  • 1 package kaiware daikon
  • 2 oz. kiriboshi daikon (dried, shredded daikon radish)

Salad Dressing

  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. kurozu (black vinegar)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. Allow kiriboshi daikon (dried radish) to reconstitute in water, squeeze the water from it and cut into bite-size lengths.
  2. Wash kaiware daikon (radish sprouts) with water, and cut into bite-size lengths.
  3. Blend all the salad dressing ingredients. Mix in the dried radish and radish sprouts with the dressing.

Temaki Zushi (Sushi Hand Roll) with Kaiware Daikon Recipe

Kaiware-temakisushi(Gochiso)

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 packages kaiware daikon
  • lkura (salmon roe), shrimp, sashimi and your choice of ingredients
  • Nori (seaweed) for sushi hand roll (as much as needed)
  • 4 servings sushi rice (vinegared rice)

Cooking Directions

  1. Place the sushi meshi (vinegared rice) on top of the nori (seaweed), add plenty of kaiware daikon and your choice of other ingredients, and roll the nori. Add your choice of ingredients, including cheese and tamago-yaki (Japanese omelette), and enjoy!

Gochiso Magazine, Nijiya Market

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