daikons

This salad is a great way to use the hard Asian pears you find in the market this season. It was invented out of my sister’s late summer garden, where she had a bumper crop of daikon, a large Asian radish that, like all radishes, is a member of the large brassica family and thus kin to cabbage. Daikon is grown as both a spring and a fall crop, but if you can’t find it in the market, try substituting shredded cabbage. My sister also grows perilla, an Asian herb in the mint family better known to sushi-eaters by its Japanese name, shiso, which sometimes is translated on menus as “beefsteak leaf.” You could omit it and experiment with adding other fresh herbs, such as mint. Red shiso adds a distinctive pink tint and a flavor reminiscent of cinnamon, anise, and basil. We decided that the salad serves 8, but I could easily eat 2 portions and still go back for more.          —Cheryl Angelina Koehler

2 cups daikon, grated (or shredded cabbage)

½ teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

2 cups pear, grated (choose hard but sweet, like Asian pears)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

40 red shiso leaves, cut in chiffonade (or mint)

1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

Grate daikon into a large bowl, then press it to squeeze out some of the liquid and drain. Place salt in a mortar along with the clove of garlic and mash until the garlic turns into a paste. Stir this paste into the daikon.

Grate the pears into the bowl with the daikon and immediately squeeze lemon juice over the pear to keep it from turning brown.

Add shiso leaves, rice vinegar, and ginger. Toss until well mixed and serve.

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