By Alison Peake

    One of the many joys of buying at farmers’ markets and meeting the producers is that you get to ask questions about the food you are buying. If you see a vegetable you are not familiar with and don’t know what to do with it you always can get cooking tips direct from the grower.

    You may have noticed at market recently what looks like an oversized white carrot. That is very close to the truth of the matter as this Asian speciality is a close relative of the carrot and can be used in very similar ways.

    We are talking about the daikon, revered in Japanese cooking and for its value for pickling, which is essentially an oversized radish.

    Just like its cousin the carrot, daikon can be eaten raw or cooked and can even be baked into cakes or buns. Add them to the pan when you are roasting meat and they will take the flavour from the meat stock.

    Preparation is much the same as other root vegetables and daikon can be sliced, diced, julienned, grated, shredded or shaved (use a mandolin for wafer thing slices for salad) or add to coleslaw for extra flavour and crunch.

    Check out recipes for tuna sashimi with daikon, avocado with wasabi dressing and daikon chips – just like French fries only better! Or even Taiwanese daikon and tofu buns otherwise known as Daikon Mochi.

    Next time you are shopping don’t overlook the daikon because you don’t know what to do with it. Embrace the opportunity to add something new to your culinary repertoire and ask the growers for some cooking tips.

    Low in calories and high in nutrition they have so much going for them, why not daikon them a try?

    And on the subject of carrots, it isn’t too late to put some in the garden to enjoy with daikon. Chat to Courtney at Slow Food Melbourne Farmers’ Market at West Footscray for seeds and growing tips. Plus get your home grown vegie advice at My Smart Garden –

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