Shōgoin daikon 聖護院大根 is one of the traditional vegetables of Kyoto and is sometimes referred to as Kyo-daikon. It is said that during the early 19th century, a farmer moved to Kyoto from Owari province (present-day Aichi-ken) and started cultivating ordinary long daikon radishes in the vicinity of the temple Shōgoin. It seems that some of the daikon seeds produced a mutant round daikon, but the farmer was so intrigued with this new vegetable that he continued to cultivate the variation instead of the regular-shaped daikon. Since then it has become one of Kyoto’s unique vegetables, valued for its shape and its very fine white flesh with a mild flavour, much suited to the delicacy of Kyoto cuisine. When boiled it keeps its firm texture and doesn’t break apart like regular daikon.
The shōgoin daikon is mostly now grown in the northern part of Kyoto prefecture in the Tango area, where the heavy snowfalls in winter produce the best flavour. It is also dried and shipped all over Japan. It is sometimes called vegetarian dried squid because of its resemblance to the squid which are cut and dried on racks in a similar way.
Shōgoin daikon can be prepared in much the same ways as standard daikon, but the flavour is milder and slightly sweeter, with a firmer texture; however, it is rarely used as “oroshi” (finely grated).
Kunio Tokuoka, owner-chef of the famous Kitcho restaurant, has this to say about daikon:
“Even though daikon is most well known as an accompaniment to other foods, such as finely grated and served with whitebait or grated with a dash of shoyu (soy sauce) served with mackerel and so on, at Kitcho we like to serve our customers something with a little element of surprise, so daikon is prepared in a more unpredictable way such as grilled or as tempura. Unlike turnips, in which all parts can be used, only the very middle part of the daikon is used, where the flavour is at its best.”
Here is Chef Tokuoka’s recipe for Furofuki Daikon – Simmered Daikon with Miso
First lot of rinse water that was used to clean the rice for dinner (this water contains rice starch that keeps the daikon from discolouring and maintains a bright whiteness)
Awase-miso (miso sauce):
100 gms hatcho-miso: the most highly regarded miso, a rich dark brown, made only from soybeans
135 mls sake
100 gms sugar
Yoke of one small egg
How to make the awase-miso:
Firstly, mix the egg yolk and sugar well, then blend in the sake. Warm the hatcho miso in bain marie. When it’s cooled, add it to the egg and sake. Keep aside.
1. Under the skin of the daikon is rather tough layer that should be removed. If you don’t peel it enough then the daikon won’t have soft texture and will be too hard. So peel the skin quite thickly – up to 2 cms deep (alternatively, cut the daikon into slices and then cut around each slice). Using the water that has been left after first rinsing the rice for dinner, parboil the daikon. Parboiling in this way takes away the bitterness of the daikon and helps bring out its sweetness.
2. Using a good amount of konbu dashi, lightly simmer the daikon until tender; in this way, the umami of the konbu gradually penetrates the daikon. The key point here is that in order for the heat to draw out the daikon’s natural sweetness, the deciding factor is the quality of the konbu dashi that you use. And in order to make the most effective dashi, please use the best quality konbu that is marketed for use in dashi.
3. Place the daikon in a bowl, spoon a little of the awase-miso over the daikon, and garnish with grated yuzu zest (or other citrus zest) and pinch of togarashi or shichimi (or similar types of chilli powder).
Char-grilled sanma (Pacific saury) is a quintessential autumn dish in Kyoto and chefs all have their signature way of preparing this simple and delicious fish. You can learn more about sanma from Elizabeth Andoh (in English). The standard presentation is to char-grill the fish whole and serve it with grated daikon radish and wedge of sudachi (a small tart citrus). In this blog entry, I have translated the recipe for sanma rice as it is prepared by Chef Sasaki, of Gion Sasaki restaurant. The key to perfecting this dish is the donabe in which the rice and fish are cooked – a donabe is an earthenware pot traditionally used for steaming rice.
Sanma gohan (Pacific saury and rice)
Chef Sasaki: “Char-grilled sanma with fragrant rice: the perfect combination, with grated daikon and a squeeze of sudachi. This is what I want on those autumn nights!”
2 whole Pacific saury
A little salt
100g grated daikon radish
A dash of light shoyu [soy sauce]
2 or 3 sudachi
2 cups of rice [in Japan, a ‘cup’ of rice is called a gō 合 – it is equal to 180mls]
360mls dashi stock with 2 tsp light shoyu
1. Remove the heads and fillet the fish, then sprinkle the fillets with salt and leave for two hours.
2. Insert a fine-bladed knife under the skin of the fillets to loosen the skin a little.
3. Using a fish-griller, use a high heat to char-grill the fillets, but stop when the flesh is still half-raw.
4. Add the dashi and the light shoyu to the rice and cook in a donabe [a traditional clay cooking pot]. When the rice begins to steam, place the fillets on top of the rice and continue cooking.
5. When the rice has cooked, spread the grated daikon over the top and then sprinkle sudachi juice over it.
Here is a translation of this video, which is described here using hamachi (yellowtail/amberjack) but which can be applied to any kind of fish and in fact you could use it for root vegetables as well for a quick pickle.
Cut the fish into slices between 5 – 6 mm thick
Sprinkle with salt
Slice the daikon using the technique known as katsuramuki and then finely slice julienne
Place the sliced daikon in water to make it stay crisp. Drain.
Cut the wakame into bite-size pieces
Wipe the kombu with a damp cloth
Brush the kombu with sake
Place the fish one by one along the surface of the first piece of kombu
Place the second piece of kombu on top
To prevent exposure to the air, wrap the kombu sandwich tightly in plastic wrap
Place the wrapped kombu in the refrigerator for about an hour and a half
Mix a little shoyu with dashi
Arrange the sliced daikon, wakame, fish slices on a plate and add a little benitade (water pepper) and wasabi. Serve with the shoyu-dashi dip.
For an awesome video about slicing daikon watch this…
Following on from Chef Satoshi Iida’s post about Koshotai (Crescent Sweetlips), here is an excellent video on preparing sea bream for sashimi. Note the use of different knives for the various functions of preparing the fish.
Here is the transcript of the video:
0:00 Higesoridai (a type of sea bream very similar to Koshotai) sashimi.
0:07 Higesoridai is a delicious white-fleshed fish.
0:12 Whilst delicious as sashimi, sea bream can also be enjoyed grilled, simmered and cooked in rice.
0:16 After preparing the fish for sashimi, the leftover portions of the fish can be prepared as shimofuri (explained under Techniques) to be cooked in other ways later.
0:23 Using an urokotori (fish scaler), remove the scales. The spines are very sharp so be careful not to hurt yourself.
0:30 First, remove the gills and the guts.
1:28 Because this kind of fish is flat and the skin is firm, it is quite easy to fillet.
1:45 Cut along the backbone of the fish.
1:56 Cut around the abdominal cavity.
3:15 You now have three pieces.
3:22 Remove the flesh that surrounded the abdominal cavity
3:35 Remove the small bones near the spine.
3:53 Now we’ll remove the skin – it is quite slippery, so use a paper towel to hold onto the skin.
4:15 Now we’ll cut the sashimi and arrange it on the serving dish.
4:20 Prepare julienne strips of carrot, daikon, kaiware sprouts (radish sprouts), myoga, momiji-oroshi (see Glossary for explanations of these ingredients)
4:30 Chill the serving dish by putting ice on it.
4:45 Slice through the thickness of the flesh making fine slanted cuts.
4:55 Pull the knife towards you as you slice.
5:06 Draw your elbow back as you slice.
6:06 When you’ve sliced all the sashimi, garnish the dish with shiso leaves
6:11 Here is the finished arrangement. Serve the sashimi with a soy sauce ponzu (a citrus-flavoured thin sauce)
6:15 Place the other condiments on the top. These flavours work well in bringing out the delicious taste of the fish and give an elegant finish to the dish.
6:20 Notice the momiji-oroshi has been made into a little ball with the stem of a cherry tomato added on the top.