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What Is a White Radish?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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A white radish is a member of the radish family native to East Asia, where it has been cultivated for centuries. There are a number of ways to use white radish in cooking, in Asian recipes and recipes from further afield, and this food is often obtainable at big grocery stores and Asian markets. Enterprising gardeners can also cultivate this radish at home, as it grows very readily and is generally easy to handle.

This food is also sometimes known as the Chinese radish, loo bak, mooli, winter radish, labanos, Japanese radish, or daikon. In appearance, it resembles an oversized white carrot or turnip, with a tapering root and a spray of large green leaves. When a white radish is grown entirely underground, it will have a tender, crispy texture and a mild flavor. If the root is allowed to protrude above the ground, the exposed areas can turn green and slightly woody; a green-topped radish should be avoided, if possible.

Several cultures believe this radish is a very effective digestive aid. Small plates of grated radish may be served with fried foods and other heavy dishes to help people digest the meal. This radish may also be offered as a palate cleanser, or used as a garnish. In Japan, people are more inclined to eat white radish raw in things like salads, while the Chinese tend to prefer to cook it in stir fries and other dishes. White radish pickle is also a popular condiment and snack in some parts of Asia.

Fresh white radishes are crispy and juicy, with a delicate flavor which can be quite enjoyable. When used in cooked dishes, they can be thrown in at the last minute to retain their crispy nature, or allowed to simmer for a longer period of time, depending on the taste of the cook. Grated white radishes are also used in the preparation of cooked dishes such as delicate fried cakes served around Chinese New Year.

Although white radishes are winter radishes, classically maturing in the fall and winter, they are often available year round. People who live in temperate climates where summer weather does not climb to high temperatures can to grow this vegetable. They should prepare the soil by fertilizing it and making sure that it will drain well, and plant out seeds or seedlings in mid summer. These radishes like to stay moist during their growing period, and they will need to be thinned to give the roots some room to grow. They can be harvested through the fall.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon348034 — On Sep 12, 2013

I want to plant white radishes, but I need the following information: How should the land be prepared (on flat ground or ridges?) How deep should the seed be sown in the soil? What should be the spacing of seed in the nursery bed or seed bed?

If planted in a nursery bed, when should it be transplanted? --Mubiru V., Uganda

By anon285063 — On Aug 13, 2012

We raised what we think are Daikon white radishes and they are extremely hot. We live in Southern Idaho and they have been watered regularly, and they are just now getting a good size to eat. What has made them so hot? Could this be a different variety? They are harvested for seed in the Yuma AZ area. Thanks for any info you can provide.

By anon158792 — On Mar 08, 2011

I was just eating the Chinese white radish cake and was wondering if there was any nutritional value. Good to know that it help with digestion. I love this cake and ask my mom to make it all the a few times a year.

But why should i avoid green top radish?

By widget2010 — On Jan 23, 2011

White radishes often are a more mild flavor than typical radishes, which is good if, like me, you are not a huge fan of the taste of a radish.

If you're eating radishes for digestion, it is like many root vegetables, including ginger, in that you really do not need very much to get the effect you want.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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