Slow Cooked Daikon with Sweet Tahini Sauce

Have you ever cooked daikon nishime style? This is a great dish for cooler weather, especially right now as we head into fall.

Nishime is a style of slow cooking with minimal water or liquid in the covered pot. As the vegetables cook, they gather heat and all the energy concentrates within the vegetable. It’s a very strengthening dish and great for nourishing your digestive system. I first learned nishime style cooking by a teacher who placed a variety of cut root vegetables in sections (not layered) in the pot. For a long time I thought that was the only way to make nishime.

Nishime cooking with only one or two vegetables is a newer development. Warren Kramer taught an onion dish very similar to this recipe. Feel free to vary the sauce added at the end to your own tastes. You can also substitute small whole onions, turnips, and cauliflower, taking care to adjust the cooking times. Cauliflower won’t need much time at all so that might be a good choice for a quick weekday dinner. You can even make the sauce ahead so it’s ready in advance. The sauce will probably last about a week, even longer without the lemon juice.

Try to get fresh daikon that seems moist, solid in the center and white. I love finding them with the greens. It’s a good indicator of freshness and daikon greens are a favorite of mine.

 

Slow Cooked Daikon with Sweet Tahini Sauce

Course: Vegetable
Keyword: nishime, root vegetable

Equipment

  • heavy le cresuet or stainless steel pot with lid

Ingredients

  • 1 long daikon or two smaller the amount really depends on the size of pot you are using
  • 3 postage stamp size pieces of kombu
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp sweet white or chickpea miso find a mild miso, I like South River or Miso Master
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest optional
  • 1 Tbsp brown rice syrup I love Suzanne's or Patty's

Instructions

  • Cut the daikon into circles about 1.5 inches thick. Score the tops crosswise to about halfway down being careful to not go any further.
  • Choose a heavy pot, either stainless steel, a Le Creuset type or ceramic. You want it to be a snug fit for all the daikon to sit in a single layer. You'll need a heavy lid that fits well. Add as much daikon as necessary to fill the bottom of the pot. You will need to increase the amount of sauce accordingly depending on how big your pot is and how much daikon you are cooking.
  • Spread the kombu on the bottom of the pot and add about half an inch of water.
  • Arrange the daikon cut side up. Place pot on medium heat. Cover. Bring the pot to a boil and then immediately reduce heat to allow the liquid to simmer. Let the daikon slow cook until they are fork tender. They are ready for the sauce when a paring knife slides in easily. This may take 20 minutes, or longer, depending on the size and freshness of the daikon. In true nishime cooking, the lid isn't lifted during the cooking process so the energy can stay in the pot and go into the vegetables. This creates a super strengthening dish. In reality, I might lift the lid once or twice just to make sure the daikon isn't running out of liquid and that it is still simmering. Find your own way with this. You don't want it to burn! You can use a flame deflector if that helps you prevent burning.
  • While the daikon is cooking, mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add a little water if needed to create a thick, spreadable sauce.
  • When the daikon is tender, remove the cover and spread each circle evenly with the sauce. Try to keep the sauce on top of the daikon so it doesn't slide off and mix with any liquid that is left. Replace cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve.