For those of us following a paleo lifestyle, we’ve made “zoodles” and used spaghetti squash or cabbage as noodle substitutes. There is a not so frequently mentioned vegetable that also makes amazing “noodles.” For those that are trying to adhere to a lower carb paleo diet, these noodles have a similar macronutrient profile to zucchini noodles and are lower in carbohydrates than spaghetti squash.
So what is a daikon radish? It is a long and slender white root vegetable that is commonly used throughout Asia. It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family. In Japan, this vegetable is often pickled, used to make condiments such as ponzu (soy sauce and citrus fruit condiment) or diced / shredded to be used as an ingredient in soups, salads, curries, etc.
Besides making a great pasta noodle, the daikon radish has many nutritional benefits.
- Just like other cruciferous vegetables, it is known for its cancer fighting potential because of the high amount of antioxidants it contains which help to ward off free radicals.
- 100 grams of raw daikon has 27% of the RDA of Vitamin C, another antioxidant, but it can also help boost the immune system. It appears to have some antibacterial and anti-viral properties to help boost the immune system also.
- Daikon radish is often used in Japan to help aid digestion. It is a common practice to serve two thin slices of pickled daikon at the end of a meal to cleanse the palate and aid in the digestion of that meal. Raw, shredded daikon is often served with raw fish to aid in breakdown of protein. Laboratory testing has shown that the enzymatic profile of daikon juice is very similar to that of the human digestive tract. The digestive enzymes it contains are similar to diastase, amylase, and esterase which help break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to a more digestible form.
- It is currently being studied in Japan for its cancer fighting properties. It contains phenolic compounds that block the formation of nitrosamine in the intestines which is thought to reduce cancer risk.
- It acts as a decongestant in the lungs by dissolving the mucus and phlegm. It also decreases inflammation of the airways which opens up the respiratory tract, making it easier to expel the mucus.
Now that you know how great of a vegetable this little known radish is, let’s get to the practical stuff. When shopping for daikon radishes, pick ones that are firm, not wrinkled or bruised, and slightly shiny. Once purchased, they are best stored by removing the green tips (if attached) and then wrapped individually in plastic wrap or a grocery bag with holes. Store the wrapped daikon in the refrigerator. It is best to use the radishes soon after purchase but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Now, how to make the noodles:
- Scrub and peel the radish.
- Use a spiralizer of your choice to spiralize the radish into the shape of noodles. The one pictured is the Paderno Tri-Blade Plastic Spiral Vegetable Slicer. The julienne peeler, which can work well to make zucchini noodles, does not work as well with daikon because it is a much firmer vegetable.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Make sure you have enough water to cover the radish “noodles” once added. Once boiling, add the daikon to the pot and allow to boil for approximately 30 minutes. The noodles should be soft and have a translucent appearance when done.
- Drain and then serve in whatever pasta dish your heart desires.
Have fun, and enjoy making and eating your newly discovered “noodle” substitute.