Daikon, mango, and watercress salad
June 30, 2011 § 3 Comments
A crunchy, slightly bitter variant of radish, daikon, with its crisp texture and delicate flavor, makes a refreshing salad when thinly sliced and dressed with a tangy, creamy dressing with notes of soy sauce, mustard, and lemon. Daikon is often associated with Japanese cuisine, and at least in my experience daikon is typically made into really delicious pickles or into what is known as turnip cake (you may have tried it at a dim sum restaurant), which is a bit of a misnomer since there’s no turnip in turnip cake.
Aside from restaurants, typically daikon is available at Asian markets, but I actually spotted daikon at the grocery store the other day (Whole Foods, if you have one nearby) and squealed with excitement. Ignoring the many mutinous mumblings from a certain someone wishing to never go grocery shopping with me again in the future, I went in search of watercress so that I could make this daikon, mango, and watercress salad I’d read about earlier in the day.
The recipe itself is actually a British interpretation of a Japanese dish. But before you shudder off in horror, the British twist is supplied by none other than Jamie Oliver, who is one of the sources I turn to most when in search of new ideas for vegetables.
Indeed, this salad is a credit to Jamie Oliver’s inventiveness, as it has a wonderful mix of flavors. I have made very few adaptations, the most notable of which is to take his idea to add mango to the salad and run with that, adding an entire mango along with one large daikon to balance the daikon’s tendency toward bitterness (you may wish to increase the ratio of mango to daikon even more, depending on your daikon and your tastes). The creamy dressing, with its notes of soy sauce and mustard, unifies the mustardy bite of daikon, and the lemon’s acidity ties in the sweetness of the mango and brightens everything up. I also didn’t grill or broil the lemon for five minutes before making the dressing as recommended, but I think if you have access to either a grill or a broiler the smokiness of the grilled lemon could only enhance the salad.
A final note on daikon: it is definitely a relative of the radish, and as such can range from peppery and mustardy (like the ones I got), to spicy and bitter. As such I highly recommend sampling your daikon before assembling the salad, and if yours is especially spicy, you may wish to serve the salad as more of a condiment or accent to the main meal (I served ours with salmon, and it was delicious), or even turn it into daikon pickles. And yes, that means tomorrow I’ll be making daikon pickles and sharing that recipe soon with you too!
Daikon, mango, and watercress salad
Serves four to eight, depending on serving size
Adapted from Happy Days with the Naked Chef
For the dressing
- Juice of one lemon
- Three tablespoons olive oil
- Two tablespoons vegenaise (or mayonnaise if you prefer)
- One tablespoon sour cream or crème fraîche (see note)
- One tablespoon Dijon mustard
- One tablespoon soy sauce
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the salad
- One large daikon (Japanese daikon/daikon radish), washed and peeled, and cut into long ribbons
- One mango, sliced into strips lengthwise
- A bunch of watercress or other cress such as mustard cress
1. Whisk together dressing ingredients, correcting any seasonings to taste.
2. Wash and peel the daikon. Thinly slice the daikon lengthwise using a mandolin, or use your awesome knife skills. Or, just use a vegetable peeler and peel long strips. (My knife skills are not so hot so I essentially made matchsticks, just do what works for you.)
3. Wash and peel the mango into long strips as well. Rinse and pat dry the cress of your choosing. Reserve a few leaves to sprinkle over the salad.
4. Toss together salad ingredients with the salad dressing in a large bowl. Sprinkle over a bit of reserved cresses and enjoy!
Oliver, Jamie. “Japanese Daikon Salad with Mustard Cress, Crème Fraîche and Grilled Lemon Dressing.” Happy Days with the Naked Chef. New York: Hyperion, 2002 (102, 114).