Growing up, I never stopped to question what the bright yellow-colored pickled veggies sitting next to my rice were. My mom used to pull a giant jar out of the fridge most mornings to serve with our eggs and rice. I’d find them in my bentos for lunch, and they were almost always found on the dinner table. The scent is a bit of a surprise, but the combination of pungent daikon (a long white radish), tangy vinegar, and sweet-and-salty crunch more than makes up for the shock. The trick to this pickle is a bit of patience. You’ll need to let them sit for at least three days before serving. Crunchy and a little funky smelling (in the best way), this pickled daikon is the perfect accompaniment to just about any savory dish, but my favorites are mochiko chicken or teriyaki beef sticks and rice. Be sure to look for a firm daikon radish, as you’ll need it for the crunch!
Makes about 1 quart
- 1 large or 2 small firm daikon radishes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled
- 1/4 cup Hawaiian salt (‘alaea)
- 1/2 cup rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 or 4 squeezes of yellow food coloring gel (optional)
- 1 Hawaiian chili pepper (nīoi), thinly sliced (optional)
Cut the daikon into 3/8-inch-thick rounds and toss with the salt. Let sit uncovered at room temperature for 3 hours, then rinse and squeeze out the excess water before packing it into a jar. Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, sugar, food coloring, and chili pepper (if using) in a small, nonreactive saucepan and bring to a boil. Cool the sugar-vinegar sauce to room temperature while the daikon sits. Pour it over the prepared daikon slices in the jar and store in the refrigerator for at least 3 days but preferably a week before serving. This will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
Reprinted with permission from “Aloha Kitchen: Recipes from Hawai’i” by Alana Kysar, copyright © 2019. Photographs by Alana Kysar and Brooklyn Dombroski. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.