Easy Pickled Daikon – Takuan (たくあん)

Easy Pickled Daikon – Takuan (たくあん)
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Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

Takuan is a popular Japanese pickle traditionally made once a year and left alone for months fermenting to allow the flavor to fully develop. The fermenting process results in the a beautiful yellow colored pickle full of flavor. However, if you can’t find pickled daikon in a store near you, you might not want to commit to months of pickling for just one dish, delicious though it may be. So, this recipe is a easy variation for a quick pickle without the long fermentation. Still crisp and flavorful, in a fraction of the time!

But, you might be thinking, these pickles aren’t yellow. Well, yes, since we aren’t fermenting them for months, they don’t develop that beautiful golden color. If you want to make your pickles yellow, you can add a few drops of food coloring to the vinegar, or mix in a teaspoon of tumeric. (Tumeric is used for its color more so than flavor, and is often used to give boiled rice a yellow color. When you see yellow fried rice at a restaurant, it’s likely they colored it with tumeric!)

While I like to call this recipe quick, it’s not at all quick in comparison to my basic quick pickles. This recipe takes about two days, but when classic takuan takes months to prepare, two days is pretty quick!! The pickling brine serves as a perservative, so one batch will keep for at least a month – that is if you can stop yourself from eat them all right away! Takuan served with a hot bowl of rice and miso soup is a very simple yet oh so delicious meal!

Can’t find daikon? You can use any radish available to you. I’ve made it with red radishes before for a similar taste. While you’ll have to use a lot of them, I think the red skin makes a beautiful contrast to the pickle when sliced!

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

Recipe – Quick Pickled Diakon: 

Nutrition Facts

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 mins
Pickling Time: 2 days
Yields: 8 servings 

  • 1 long daikon radish
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sake (optional)



- Skin the daikon, then start slicing it into thin strips.

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

- Sprinkle the daikon with salt, then let it sit for about 2 hours to pull out some of the water and develop some crunch.

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish
- While the daikon is salting, add the sugar, water, vinegar and sake to a small pan and bring to a boil. Let boil until the sugar is fully dissolved, then turn off the heat and let cool.

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

- After two hours, take the daikon a handful at a time and squeeze out as much water as you can. Set the squeezed daikon in a plastic container.

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

- Add the cooled liquid to the container, then cover with a lid and let sit for at least two days for flavor to develop!

Asian Recipe - How To Make Japanese Takuan Pickled Daikon Radish

- Serve chilled or at room temperature!

Do you you have any other recipes you want to learn how to make? If so, let me know! If not, いただきます! (Let’s eat!) (^.^)


10 Responses »

  1. I made these today. I’m about three hours into the process and the flavor is already completely transformed and completely delicious. I can’t wait to taste the final pickles.

    Just one change which I thought I’d share. I bought a small piece of daikon, sliced it into half moons, salted it, squeezed the liquid out, stuffed it into a jar, then followed Chef Michael Symon’s simple pickling process. Here it is:

    “Place the vegetables to be pickled in a jar and cover them with water. Pour the water into a measuring cup. Note the volume, pour off half the water and replace it with vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons sugar for every three cups of liquid. Combine the liquid and any spices (I added katsuobushi) in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then pour over the veggies, screw the lid on and refrigerate.”

    Adding the hot liquid makes the pickling process a little safer, I think. And using Symon’s method means you can use any amount of daikon and any size jar and still achieve the proper acidity to keep you pickles safe from bacterial toxins like botulin.

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I searched dozens of websites and chose your recipe as my starting point. I can’t wait to taste my first batch of takuan.

    • Thanks for your input!

      I agree, adding the hot liquid does help keep it “safer” by killing off bacteria, and since traditional takuan is made by sitting out over months, you definitely want to eliminate any risk of spoilage! It’s the same concept as when you’re sterilizing everything when canning pickles in mason jars.

      I think the process can be intimidating to new chefs though, so my goal with this method was to make a quick pickle to be eaten within a few days. I didn’t put as much emphasis on keeping everything sterile, since these aren’t intended for long storage and it might help get people interested in pickling methods if they see how simple it is. But, if you’re planning on making a huge batch and letting them sit for months, definitely boil and sterilize everything!

      • Just wanted to follow up. These are amazing pickles. I ate my first batch in a matter of days and am working on batch number 2. I doubt I’ll ever buy takuan again. Thanks so much for posting this recipe.

  2. I’m so excited to try this recipe! I love these pickles but the original Japanese method seemed too daunting for me to tackle (having never pickled anything before.) Thank you for sharing!

    • I hope this method makes it easy for you! The most important thing when quick pickling is to get out all that water, so be sure to squeeze them really well after being salted! Then you’ll be on your way to a really great pickle! (^.O)

      • I finally made some a few weeks ago and they tasted so delicious! :) the only thing I wanted to ask about is the crunchy texture of the pickles. I want my takuan to be slightly softer in texture, is there any way to achieve that? I read that the traditional way is to sun dry the Daikon slices before pickling. Do you think that will work with the quick pickling method?

        • I’m looking forward to giving this recipe a try. I hope for crunch though. lol

          Perhaps if you added your radishes to the pan you heated your pickling liquid in after you remove it from the heat. Just let it all cool off in there.

          If they still turn out to crunchy… then next time add them sooner and cook them for a few minutes.

          If they turn out too soft… then next time let the liquid cool off more before you add them.

        • With traditional takuan it’s not necessarily the sun that changes the texture, but the fermentation that is changing the texture of the pickle. It’s that fermentation that gives it the yellow color and the strong smell as well, so it’s hard to completely replicate it without the bacteria to do the work for us.

          You can try adding the radish to the hot liquid right when you take it off the burner to let the heat break down a little bit of the texture, but you don’t want to actually cook them otherwise the structure of the fibers get be too soft. You can also try adding a bit more salt to pull out more water, or even just adding more pressure to the pickle while squeezing! I don’t always like squeezing them by hand, it can be hard to distribute pressure evenly, so you might find a Tsukemono Pickle Press to work better. It just takes a little experimentation. I like a crunchy pickle, so I’ve never tried to change it before, but I’d love to hear what works!

  3. Hi

    I would like pickle a whole daikon so that I can cut long strips for my nori rolls. Does the above process apply? And do I keep them stored in the fridge during the whole pickling duration.


    • Yes, you can follow this process with a lot of different vegetables to make a good quick pickle. I suppose you could leave them out at room temperature while pickling, but I’ve always kept them in the fridge. Just make sure they’re sealed while sitting out to be safe!

      The only issue you have to keep in mind is the length of pickling time you want. For this method, I intend to eat them within a week or two, so I don’t stress about sterilization. If you want to pickle a whole lot of daikon at once and keep it for months before eating, you need to make sure your pickling jar is sterile, the vinegar boils long enough to kill any bacteria, and the jar is sealed tightly once the vinegar is added to prevent spoilage. It’s not hard, it just takes a little more effort.

      If, however, your goal is to make traditional pickled daikon with a yellow color, this is not going to be the right method to take. My pickles use salt and vinegar, whereas that type of pickle uses a rice bran mixture and sits for months to allow fermentation to do its thing. It does taste amazing, but the smell it gives off can be strong and length required to make it is not really practical for a home chef unless you have a good place to store it!

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