Homemade Takuan, Take 1
The last time my dad came to visit, he brought a little plastic tub of purple takuan he had made himself. He’s a farmer, and one of the things he grows is daikon, including purple daikon. Well, apparently he can’t sell the crooked ones, so he ends up with excess of the giant roots and started making his own koko because, well, why not?
Anyway, I tried it, but he’d added a slice of hot pepper, so it was quite spicy and scared away most takers he offered it to. He forgot to take it home, and me and Mikia started slowly picking away at it, getting used to the spiciness. After just a couple of days, we’d eaten it all. It was really yummy! Much better than the store-bought ones, which actually sit in my fridge for years before I pluck one occasionally for bento.
I asked him for the recipe and me and Mikia gave it a try.
The recipe called for Hawaiian salt, but I couldn’t find mine, so I ended up using sea salt because I figured both come from the ocean, right? 🙂
I don’t know if it’s because I used a different salt or if the daikon I bought was getting old, but the slices became shriveled and wrinkled. It was super easy though. You basically just peel it, slice it, and dump all the ingredients in and refrigerate overnight. It’s ready to eat the next morning. At first I thought I’d done something wrong because it calls for two cups of sugar and only half a cup of vinegar, so I basically had this goopy, sticky bowl of daikon. I texted my dad to make sure he’d gotten it right, and he had.
I guess the root leaks out a ton of water, and so as it soaked, it came out and made the liquid more like water. I looked in my Maui cookbook and one recipe said to add one drop of yellow food coloring. I added three, and as you can see that only netted me a pale yellow koko.
The main thing is, despite the shriveled state of my takuan, it tastes amazing, and I find myself eating piles of it whenever we eat anything teriyaki. (Or sometimes late at night for a snack.) My dad was telling the kids that in the old days the poor used to just eat koko and rice because that’s all they could afford. While that’s a little sad to hear, after eating it myself, I can see how it could do the job and keep you satisfied when there wasn’t much else.
Once I figure out what caused the shriveling and tweak it a bit, I’ll post a recipe. For now, consider this a yummy experiment in one of my rare homemade pickling attempts.