Chinese red braising is a very popular cooking technique that involves cooking meat in light and dark soy sauce, fermented bean paste and rock sugar, resulting in a caramelised taste and reddish brown tint to the dish. This type of cooking is also called braises, stews or casseroles and they are feel good or comfort food that will delight the entire family. Just like many well-liked food, there are many variations to Chinese braised dishes, usually adapted by regions in China or by the preferences of the home cooks. For Cantonese Braised Beef like its name suggests, it originated from Guangdong province of Southern China. Typically, the main ingredients used for this dish are beef brisket and daikon (white radish) cooked in a flavourful sauce made with garlic, ginger, chu hou paste (fermented soybean paste), hoisin sauce, oyster sauce, star anise, cloves, dried orange peel, dried bay leaves, Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. For my gluten free recipe, my main ingredients are gravy beef (beef shin), daikon (white radish) and carrots cooked in a simple soy free sauce made with garlic, ginger, blackstrap molasses, coconut aminos, star anise, cloves, dried orange peel, dried bay leaves, medium dry sherry and salt. This recipe is not only gluten free and soy free, it is also low carbs, dairy free, egg free, nut free, corn free, refined sugar free, allergy friendly and paleo without the rice. For paleo, serve with cauliflower rice instead.
History of White Radish (Daikon)
Daikon (Raphanus sativus var. longipinnatus)is a winter radish with turnip like white root that looks a lot like a large carrot and has a bland but a little sweet yet spicy flavour. Daikon literally means large root in Japanese. Other common names are white radish, oriental radish, Asian radish, Chinese radish, long white radish, oilseed radish, icicle radish, Japanese radish or daikon radish. It is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the edible root vegetables of the Brassicaceae family and has its origin in the Mediterranean and later brought to Asia. Daikon was introduced to Japan for more than 3,000 years ago and then China for cultivation more than 2,500 years ago. Today, daikon is grown worldwide with Japan being the largest producer. Daikon is an extremely versatile vegetable in culinary uses, it can be eaten raw, stir-fried, grilled, baked, boiled or broiled. In Japanese cuisine, daikon is commonly made into pickles, shredded and added to condiments and sauces, added to salads, soups, stir-fries, stews, baked into chips or even grated and dried then eaten as a snack. In Chinese cuisine, turnip and radish cakes are made with daikon, added to vegetarian spring rolls, braises, soups, stir-fries and even pickled.
Nutritional values and Health Benefits of Daikon
Daikon is very low in calories and carbohydrates with high dietary fiber content. It is a nutritious food that is an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of copper, potassium and folate (vitamin B9). Furthermore, it contains high antioxidants and comprises numerous beneficial enzymes and phytonutrients like quercetin and ferulic acid. Daikon also has antimicrobial properties with significant antibacterial and antiviral effects. Health benefits of daikon include: promotes healthy digestive system; helps detoxify the body as it is a known natural diuretic; boosts the immune system; may decrease the risk of colon cancer and other cancer; reduces the risks of cardiovascular diseases; aids in weight loss; supports healthy bones; help maintains healthy skin and may reduce the risks of inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
Choosing and Storing Daikon
Just like any root vegetable, when purchasing daikon, look for those that do not have growth splits and bruises, feels heavy with fresh firm roots, glossy skin and green crisp leaves that are not withered. Daikon stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight container or in sealed plastic bag to preserve high level of moisture.