Practicing Kansha

In the Kitchen, At Table


   Ichi Motsu Zen Shoku 




Using Food Fully 

One way of demonstrating appreciation for nature's edible gifts is to use food fully. This practice is spoken of in two ways: Ichi Motsu Zen Shoku, literally "one thing, entirely eaten," and Kondate-Zukushi, a menu concept that selects a seasonal ingredient, then glorifies that food by preparing it in a multitude of ways. 

Both Ichi Motsu Zen Shoku and Kondate-Zukushi challenge a cook's skill and creativity to make a memorable meal from limited resources. The more ordinary the ingredient, the greater the challenge. In the Japanese kitchen, a daikon radish is often chosen to showcase this concept.

The cover of KANSHA shows a daikon radish cut in a variety of ways with several finished dishes made from the various segments:
  • na meshi (Rice Tossed with Radish Greens, page 23) utilizes the leafy greens
  • kimpira (Spicy Stir-Fry, page 122) makes use of the peels (cut into thin strips)
  • yuan yaki (Skillet-Seared Daikon with Yuzu, page 98) uses thick wheels cut from the bulbous midsection. 

These dishes served at the same daikon-venerating meal exemplify the concept of daikon-zukushi.

Daikon with Yuzu

Skillet-Seared Daikon with Yuzu

Preparing Daikon Radish

Above, page viii in KANSHA  (photo © Leigh Beisch)

Below, thin wedges of daikon, ready for pickling with apples.

Thinly Sliced Daikon

Daikon is enormously versatile. As long as you are able to source organically grown produce, all parts of the vegetable are edible. If you can find a hefty bulbous root similar to the one displayed at left, here are a few of the many ways you can prepare it:

The green tufted leaves... are best briefly blanched (page 100) then coarsely chopped and added to a soup and/or stew. Or, try tossing the chopped blanched greens in nutty tofu sauce (page 99). You could also add them to the kabocha-and-potato mixture in lieu of red beans when making crispy croquettes (page 118).

Broadly peeled peel... a green tinge is typical of a variety of daikon called aokubi (ao means "green" or "blue" and kubi means "neck"). Cut into thin julienne strips, the peel is best suited for stir-frying (page 122), though I often use the peel cut into small squares (rather than diced cubes) when making Good Fortune Pickles (page 207).

Peeled wheels, wedges or chunks... are best suited for searing and stewing (page 98) or slow simmering (Oden, page 171). Chunks can be grated for "sleet" sauce (page 117) or grated to make a condiment (Crispy-Creamy Tofu, Southern Barbarian Style, page 178 )

Thinly sliced... daikon is crispy and juicy. Try shredding the slices and adding them to the wakame salad dressed with a gingery, tart sauce (page 147). Or, sliced thinly into half-moons  to pickle with apple slices (photo below; recipe page 196)

Fruity, Sweet-and-Sour Daikon & Apples