We love this simple, crunchy side salad. While I’ve seen versions of it in Vietnamese and Korean cuisine, the one I’ve prepared here was following a Japanese recipe. It’s called namasu and my research has revealed that it’s normally served on Japanese New Year as the colours are meant to represent happiness and good luck for the coming year. However, we especially love it in summer alongside a pasta salad or barbequed potatoes and veggies. It would also make a great addition to a sandwich or a spring roll. It’s made simply of thin slices of daikon radish and carrot lightly pickled in sweet vinegar.
For those not familiar with daikon, it somewhat resembles a freakishly large white carrot. Although it is a radish and therefore slightly spicy, it’s much milder in flavour than common radishes, making it well-suited to salads such as this one. Daikon is not so easy to track down in Barcelona, doing so inevitably requires a trip downtown to the Chinese or south Asian markets. Luckily, I have seen versions of this recipe with cucumber in place of daikon for those days when going all the way downtown just to buy a radish would seem a little extreme. The dressing on this salad is a simple mix of vinegar, sugar, and salt. I find it’s best to dress the salad and let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes in order to allow the vinegar to mellow slightly and the flavours to fully develop. Because it’s pickled, it should keep in the fridge for several days, thereby making it a great make-ahead dish.
- Half a large daikon, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 small carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- Place the sliced daikon and carrot into a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well and set aside to allow the moisture to drain out, about 10 minutes. Drain off the water and squeeze the vegetables to release the excess moisture. Transfer to a dry bowl.
- Combine the vinegar, sugar, and water in a bowl and stir well to dissolve the sugar. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to combine. Taste a little and check the balance of flavours. If it’s not salty enough, add an extra 1/4 teaspoon. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.