- 5 kg very fresh daikon radish with leaves
- 240 g coarse pickling salt (it should be a total of 6% of the daikon weight – please note this is very low, so the pickle won’t keep more than 2 months, 3 at the outside. You can safely increase to 10% for longer storage.)
- ½ kg raw rice bran (roughly 7½% by weight of the semi-dried daikon)
- 75 ml by volume coarse brown Japanese sugar
- 20 cm dried kombu (kelp) cut into 5-6 pieces
- 5–7 dried chilis de arbol, stemmed but left whole
- Semi-dried peel from 1 large apple or persimmon
- Scrub but don’t peel the daikon. Tie daikon in pairs with twine, hang over a pole or line out of the rain (in a nice breezy spot – plenty of sunshine is fine, and is in fact desirable).
- Dry for 2-3 days in early winter weather in Japan – until you can easily bend a daikon into a ‘U’ shape. Cut leaves off in one piece very close to top of daikon (save them!) roll daikon back and forth on a tabletop until pliable all over.
- Mix all pickling ingredients (except daikon and leaves) together and reserve – be sure and wear rubber gloves from this point forward so you don’t contaminate the mixture.
- Lay a good layer of the nuka mixture down on the bottom of your pickling container of choice, then add a layer of daikon, bending them round and round, end to end, in a spiral to fit the container. Fill in any empty space with the leaves.
- Add more nuka mixture, patting down firmly, then keep on layering daikon and nuka and filling in spaces with leaves, ending with a nuka layer.
- Put a layer of paper or wrap down, then a board or plate, and a weight at least twice the weight of the daikon you are pickling. Cover all with several sheets of newspaper, tying or taping to the container. If you’re using an actual pickling crock with a water seal, the newspaper is unnecessary.
- Leave in a cool, dry place for 2-3 weeks. Outside is fine if it is shady and cool.
- When water exuded by the daikon reaches the level of the board or plate, reduce weights by half. Leave for another week or two before sampling, probably at its best 1-2 months after pickling. Leave the takuan in the nuka container – remove individual portions as you eat them, but do not replace them back in the container after you’ve removed them. As the takuan remains longer and longer in the pickling mixture, it will get stronger.
- Once you have identified the stage of pickling where you enjoy them most, remove them all and store wrapped in the fridge. Save the nuka for the next pickling batch – if you are running low, whip up a fresh batch and combine with the old.
- If you spot faint signs of mold after the takuan is ready to eat, remove from the pickling bed, scrape off most of the nuka, and pop into the fridge.
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