Daikon for Natural Digestion

Daikon, is a long white Japanese radish, it has a crunchy texture and a sweet and light peppery taste. It is used widely across Japanese cooking, from pickles to salad and soups to simmered dishes, it’s widely used in Japanese cooking. 

One of the most popular way of enjoying daikon is – daikon oroshi which is grated daikon. Daikon oroshi is amazing for our digestion!

I never really understood why raw grated daikon was used so often in Japanese meals, but since then I have learned about its role in digestion and it all makes sense because daikon contains 3 different digestive enzymes 

Daikon plays an important role in breaking down fats, carbohydrates and proteins whilst it also has antibacterial properties. There are three important enzymes that help this process.

That is why daikon oroshi is always served with tempura to help digesting the fat or served with fish or meat to help to digest protein.

 

Left: tempura always comes with daikon oroshi to break down the fat with tempura 

Right: Oily mackerel with daikon oroshi helps to break down both the oil and protein. 

Daikon is also we quite often serve with noodles  like soba and udon noodle traditionally to help digesting the carbohydrate. Modern days, we  put on top of spaghetti and call ” wafu (Japanese style pasta).

Daikon’s 3 digestive enzymes and its properties 

Amylase

  • Breaks down carbohydrates, this enzyme is only active in raw daikon (destroyed when the daikon is heated about 50 degrees celsius). This is why we eat raw grated daikon with udon, soba and even spaghetti in Japan.

Protease

  • Breaks down protein. Optimum function at temperature of 42 degrees celsius.

Lipase

  • Breaks down fats. Optimum function at temperature of 32 degrees celsius. This is why we eat raw grated daikon with tempura, oily fish or other deep fried foods in Japan.

Because these digestive enzymes in Daikon are heat sensitive

  • Amylase – destroyed 50 degrees 
  • Protease – destroyed 42 degrees 
  • Lipase – destroyed 32 degrees

Having RAW grated daikon is the best to serve as your natural digestant.


TIP TO MAXIMISE THE DIGESTIVE POWER OF DAIKON

Eat daikon raw  and grated and make sure it is under 42 degree to make sure to get the benefits. 


For these reasons, daikon is such an important element of cooking and dishes for Japanese culture.

Daikon and wafu dishes

There are many dishes in Japanese cuisine that have a very western influences. Sometimes it’s completely non-Japanese except for one ingredient- Daikon. Daikon is treated as the ingredient that transforms western-style dishes into Japanese style.

Whenever we serve western-style foods with grated daikon, we call this new dish “wafu” – meaning Japanese style.
For example, spaghetti is Italian but we add grated daikon to spaghetti, we call it – Wafu Spaghetti (as shown above). The amylase in daikon helps to digest the spaghetti as it breaks down the carbohydrates.

Wafu Spaghetti (Japanese style spaghetti), the daikon breaks down the carbohydrates. 

Daikon can be added to so many dishes – both Japanese and Western and is an important part of my Japanese Superfoods Cookbook. So if you are looking for more ideas on how to include this in your diet, check out my cookbook which has both tips and recipes about daikon and other superfoods.


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