Lawrence Murphy: Daikon '“ the winter radish with a warm heart
Daikon or mooli root is a long white crispy vegetable used a lot in Japanese and Chinese cuisine where it is served cooked and raw.
It has become popular in our own diets to the point that it is now possible to buy it in our local greengrocers instead of going to a specialist supplier.
The creamy root can be as long as a cucumber and has a slightly sweet, light peppery taste not dissimilar to watercress.
I like the crunchy texture you get when it is eaten raw and think the flavour is more defined before it is cooked.
This versatile vegetable is good in a stir fry, grated on to salads and makes a really good pickle. It can also be added to cabbage and fermented to make a Korean dish called kimchi that has become popular in some restaurants.
In this recipe I leave the daikon raw and serve it with pickled cucumber and grilled mackerel for a starter with great flavour and texture.
If you have the time, dry out some sliced cucumber in the bottom of a low oven and whizz it up in a small electric blender to make cucumber dust to decorate the plates.
Daikon with pickled cucumber and mackerel Ingredients (serves 4)
2 mackerel filleted and pin-boned
Teaspoon table salt
Half a cucumber
75ml white wine vinegar
30g caster sugar
Pinch sea salt
8 white peppercorns
1. Peel and thinly slice the daikon and sprinkle with the table salt.
2. Leave for 10 minutes and wash under cold running water. Dry on kitchen paper.
3. Put the water, vinegar, sugar, sea salt and peppercorns into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
4. Simmer for four minutes.
5. Allow to cool.
6. Slice the cucumber length ways and remove the seeds.
7. Slice the cucumber into thin ribbons.
8. Add the cucumber to the cold pickle and leave for at least two hours before using.
9. Place the daikon on the plates and put the pickle in the middle.
10. Grill the mackerel for four minutes until just cooked and add to your plates.
11. Sprinkle with the cucumber dust and serve.
Lawrence’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth (fatolives.co.uk) 01243 377914.