Daikon Radish （白蘿蔔）: the Beginning of Luck
Posted On May 01, 2021
Author: Yijing (Catherine) Cai, RD from Crosstown Family Health Team
“In December 2001, the Senate of Canada adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month.” –Government of Canada 
To be honest, I did not even know about Asian Heritage Month until this year. I am glad I would be able to celebrate this with fellow RDs by sharing my passion for food. As the Year 2021 is the International Year of Fruit and Vegetable, and I wanted to share a food item that is rooted in my culture. Although it is impossible to pick one fruit or vegetable that represents a culture; I decided to feature Daikon Radish. Daikon Radish is relatively accessible, easy to prepare and it also holds a meaning of the beginning of luck (Chai Tow 菜頭).
Daikon Radish is a root vegetable that is available between Jun-Nov in Ontario , it is rich in vitamin C, Mg, and copper. It is also a source of iron, calcium, Vitamin B6 and potassium . It is FODMAP friendly per 1/2 cup serving but could contain moderate amount of fructan if consumed 1 cup . Some people find it gassy, likely because it is too good and we don’t stop at 1/2 cup serving! As it is a nutritious root vegetable, my mom used to tell me this is “ginseng for people in poverty”.
“Radish in winter and Ginger in the summer keep doctors away” Chinese proverb
In Teochew dialect, Daikon shares similar pronunciation as the beginning of luck (Chai Tow 菜頭). Many people from Teochew have immigrated from mainland China to different Asian regions (such as HongKong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and more) to make a living and brought this food tradition with them. Thus, daikon cake is also a popular the lunar new year dish in many regions. Daikon radish is staple in many East Asian cuisine, here are some ways of enjoying it:
Yellow Pickled Daikon Radish
Danmuji(in Korean or Takuan in Japanese) crunchy with a sweet and sour taste. Korean uses Danmuji as side dish or in kimbap (korean-style sushi).
Daikon radish could be spicy when it is uncooked. Many like to shred or slice it in small pieces to make into salad. It is typically mix it in vinegar, sugar, and red pepper and let it sit for about 10 mins. Korean also has it is own version of daikon radish salad, called Musaengchae (무생채) 
Lo Pak Go (蘿蔔糕in Cantonese), aka Chai Tow Kway (in 菜頭粿Teochew)
Lo Pak Go is a more popular name in Canada, likely because this dish was brought to Canada with dim-sum culture by Hongkongese immigrants. This is a savory dish that could be ordered at any dim-sum restaurant. It is traditionally made with rice flour, cornstarch and Chinese sausage, shitake mushrooms, dried shrimp and dried scallops. This could easily be made gluten free and vegan as it uses rice flour and cornstarch to hold its shape. Before serving, Lo Pak Go will be sliced and pan fried to brown and crispy for best texture.
Radish Soup （白蘿蔔湯）
Radish soup is another popular way of enjoying daikon radish. This is not a particular dish, but a common way of preparing daikon radish. It could be boiled with shell fishes, fresh fish, or pork bone. In soup, daikon radish would give a natural sweet flavour to the soup and bring out the unami flavour of the meat.
Radish ball （菜頭丸）
This dish is likely region specific in my hometown region Teochew. My grandma makes great radish ball from scratch. It is typically made with shredded daikon radish, sweet potato starch, and peanuts. It is shaped into ball to steam and store in the fridge and stir-fry it with peanuts, dried baby shrimps, and green scallions.
If you have never tried daikon radish before, I hope this post inspired you to give this magical ingredient a try! Have fun exploring this new ingredient and Let’s eat (sihk faahn 食飯)！
Thank you Kimberley Sandiland for proofreading.
Thank you Yijing (Catherine) Cai for sharing some of your Culture with us. We want to highlight the importance of cultural appreciation in Dietetics. We aim to be intentional about appreciating foods through exploring and, understanding the history behind cultural food practices, and what other cultures offer us. Diversity, equity and inclusion are important to the PCDA, and the future of the dietetics profession.
The PCDA would like to acknowledge the increased violence and racism against Asian communities and denounces all forms of hate and discrimination, including anti-Asian racism.
The Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter reports there were 1,150 instances of anti-Asian racism reported through two websites, COVIDRacism.ca and elimin8hate.org, between March 10, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021. The council continues to collect data from the sites.
PCDA stands in solidarity and we must support our Asian members and ask everyone to oppose anti-Asian racism. We are asking you to speak up if you see or hear racist comments or behavior.
|||Government of Canada , 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/asian-heritage-month/about.html.|
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