Daikon Radish

Illustrations by John BurgoynePhoto: Kang Kim

Daikon, the elongated, overgrown Asian radish that’s often turned into kimchee or soup, can also be cooked into a delicious, savory cake, as Michael “Bao” Huynh does to accompany his duck hash at BarBao. Although a few local farms still have some in storage along with the lingering apples and potatoes, the root is readily found in Chinatown, where Huynh also sources his lap cheong, Chinese shiitakes, rice wine, and rice flour.

Michael Huynh’s Daikon Rice Cakes

1 ounce dried shrimp
2 pounds daikon radish
2 quarts chicken stock
5 ounces Chinese sausage (lap cheong)
Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/3 cups fresh shiitakes, diced (Huynh prefers Chinese)
3 scallions, thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
3 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or mirin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 2/3 cups rice flour

Soak the dried shrimp in boiling water for 10 minutes, then drain. (1) Peel and trim daikon radish, then cut into 1 inch dice. Combine with chicken stock in a saucepan over high heat and boil for 30 minutes, or until cubes become almost translucent, but still intact. (2) Drain, reserving liquid. When daikon is cool, purée with a hand blender. Place in a large mixing bowl. Steam or boil Chinese sausage for about 10 minutes, then finely dice. Heat a wok or frying pan over high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. When pan is hot, stir-fry sausage for 1 minute. Add shrimp and mushrooms and stir-fry for 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add scallions, sugar, rice wine, pepper, and cilantro, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add to mashed daikon and stir. In a separate bowl, combine rice flour with 1½ cups of the reserved liquid, and add it to the daikon mixture. Combine well. Ladle batter into a 10 inch-square sprayed cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees in a water bath for 45 minutes to an hour, until firm. Refrigerate overnight. (3) Remove from pan and slice into pieces 2 inches long and ½ inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick frying pan, and cook the cakes in batches over high heat, browning both sides and edges, until heated through (5 to 10 minutes). Garnish with cilantro and scallion, and serve with any combination of sauces: soy, hoisin, Sriracha, or fish (Huyhn recommends ketchup).

Daikon Radish