Cold weather makes daikon more tempting. But it is not easy to prepare root vegetables like radishes so that they fully absorb the flavor of the "dashi" broth.
"Slicing the daikon more thinly is a fail-safe way," says cooking expert Atsuko Matsumoto who suggests new ways to make traditional dishes.
She likens the cooked daikon slices to "usurai," thin ice that forms in early winter, and calls this simmered winter dish "usurai-ni."
Matsumoto also offers a tip for cooking daikon the usual way, in thick slices. Boil the thick slices of daikon in water before adding them to a steaming dashi stock to finish. Heating both before blending them allows the flavors to seep to the center of the daikon.
INGREDIENTS (serves four)
500 grams daikon (about half the long radish)
100 grams pork back rib meat ("bara-niku") sliced thinly for dipping
1/2 cup dashi stock
Seasoning (2 Tbsp each of sake, sweet "mirin" sake, light soy sauce, 2 tsp sugar, bit of salt)
2 tsp cooking oil
30 grams ginger
Peel daikon and slice into 1 mm thick slices. Cut pork slices in half, or in three if they are long. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp sake (not listed above). Peel ginger and finely julienne into needle-like strips.
Pour dashi and seasoning in a pot and bring to a boil. Add pork, cook for a short while, remove the scum and turn off the heat.
Pour cooking oil in another pot and turn on high heat. Lightly stir-fry the daikon slices over high heat. When oil has coated the slices and they have softened somewhat, remove and place in a sieve to drain excess liquid.
Reheat the pork until it simmers. Add daikon and cook on high heat for seven to eight minutes until almost no liquid remains. Turn over the ingredients occasionally.
Serve garnished with julienned ginger. Fine strips of yuzu zest may be used instead of the ginger.