Simmered Kyoto Daikon Radish Draws Out 'umami' Flavor

Simmered Kyoto daikon radish draws out 'umami' flavorYou will know what is sumptuous about this simple, almost spartan-looking, dish when you first eat it.
A large cut of “yodo-daikon,” a globular radish originating in Kyoto near the Shogoin temple, absorbs the "dashi" stock and melts in your mouth.

“It will not fall apart, no matter how long you simmer it,” says Kimio Tomura, owner of a Kyoto-cuisine restaurant, of the mild radish that needs no boiling beforehand.

If yodo-daikon is unavailable, choose a radish fit for simmering. Skin may be sauteed as “kinpira” or pickled with kelp. Serves eight.


1 (1.5-2 kg) yodo-daikon

400 grams head and bone (ara) of white fish such as sea bream, Spanish mackerel or flounder

2 to 2.5 liters tuna-kelp dashi stock

50 cc sake

2 tsp salt

1 to 2 Tbsp light soy sauce

Yuzu zest, paste made of Japanese mustard powder

Gauze, cooking string


Cut radish into equal-size fan-shaped pieces that are 4 cm thick. Cut off stem, cut into quarter lengthwise, then cut horizontally. Peel thickly to inside of ring. Chamfer corners.

Place fish bone in bowl and pour hot water. Lightly rub off blood and scales under running water. Beware of pricking bones. Pat dry, wrap in gauze and tie with cooking string.

Line up radish in wide pot. Place fish bone also and pour stock until it covers content. Add sake and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove scum. After 4 to 5 minutes, reduce heat so pot simmers quietly. Place drop lid and cook for about 30 minutes. Remove fish bone. Cook for another 10 to 20 minutes. Add stock so radish is always covered. Stick thin skewer and check that radish is tender enough.

Add salt and soy sauce. Simmer 10 minutes and turn off heat.

Leave for 3 to 4 hours so taste settles. Reheat amount to be eaten with soup. Top with chopped or grated yuzu zest and serve with mustard to taste.

Estimated time: 85 minutes (25 minutes to prepare, 60 minutes to cook)

Nutritional information (per serving): kilocalories, 55; sodium content, 2.2 grams; fat content, 0.8 gram