The daikon radish is a versatile root vegetable popular in many Asian countries, including Japan, China, Vietnam, and India. It looks like a fatter, whiter version of the parsnip.
This white radish is not exactly an everyday supermarket staple in many Western countries, yet the online world teems with recipes that use this ingredient. If you’re lucky, you may have a local Asian grocer or a well-stocked supermarket that ranges this vegetable. For the rest of us, you’re probably asking the question: what is the best substitute for daikon radish? Let’s take a look at your best options now.
What does a daikon radish taste like?
The daikon radish tastes worlds apart from the red radish that is more popular in Western cuisine. It’s a mild, slightly sweet vegetable with a crisp texture. The placid flavor means that it complements dishes ranging from stir-fries and salads through to more exotic recipes such as yuzu daikon or a spicy curry. It’s also commonly used in Japan as a palate cleanser, served in shredded pieces with sushi.
View the gallery for 5 substitutes
Best substitutes for daikon radish
1. White turnips (best option)
The white turnip is our preferred substitute for daikon radish. It makes sense as they’re both cruciferous vegetables that are crispy textured and mild in flavor. Keep in mind that turnips are a more subtle taste, so it’s not a perfect replacement.
By peeling red radishes, you’ll get a very similar looking vegetable that works well in stir-frys. The critical difference is that red radishes have a much spicier, more pronounced flavor. You wouldn’t use this option as a surrogate palate cleanser, as you would daikon. It is way too overpowering and would ruin the dish.
The texture and color make parsnips an excellent back-up option for daikon. The flavor profile of the parsnip carries a sweeter undertone and is less spicy, so keep this top-of-mind when considering parsnips for your meal.
If it’s available where you live, jicama is another conceivable option as it has a very similar color and texture. The main difference is that jicama provides a milder taste and is a little more fibrous.
5. Cabbage hearts
Okay, let’s start by stating this option is a stretch. If you don’t have any of the above options, then get yourself a cabbage. Instead of tossing out the white core, you could use it as a substitute. If the recipe is a slow-cooked casserole or soup that uses daikon, you could get away with this option.
Finding a substitute for daikon in kimchi
Kimchi is a hugely popular Korean dish consisting of ingredients that include fermented napa cabbage, gochujang paste, scallions, ginger, and daikon. It is commonly used as a side dish and also as a main ingredient in bibimbap. However, the daikon used in Korean cooking differs from the Japanese daikon.
Korean daikon has denser flesh and a stronger flavor than its Japanese counterpart. The enzymes in this vegetable assist with the fermentation process when making kimchi. If you need a substitute for daikon in kimchi, then you can use white turnip which will help with the fermentation process.
The flavor of Korean daikon packs a stronger punch than the turnip so your kimchi will taste different. But keep in mind that kimchi recipes vary wildly and making alterations to ingredients is acceptable. However, I don’t recommend leaving the daikon out altogether without a replacement as it assists with fermentation.
The daikon is extremely popular in some Asian countries. As their food preferences continue to work their way into Western society, it’s only natural you’ll see recipes pop up for its use.
Several daikon radish alternatives would work in a range of dishes. I’d use white turnips as my number one choice if they’re available. The two vegetables have a similar crispy texture and a mild taste. Although they have distinct flavors, you could get away with using them interchangeably in casseroles and stir-frys.
Don't have any of our recommended replacements? Another option to consider is leaving the daikon out of the recipe without using a back-up option. For most recipes, I don’t see it having a significant impact on the meal.
Do you have any suggestions for a suitable substitute? Leave a comment below.