Labanos – radish, daikon – is an easy, fast growing root vegetable like carrots. It has a distinctive flavor, pungent and peppery but crisp and refreshing. It belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables such as cabbage, kale & broccoli which are known to be
cancer-fighters. They range from a variety of sizes, shapes and color but the only variety I grow up with is the white Chinese variety now known as daikon, but not as big. Being a cool season vegetable, it doesn’t grow as big because our weather in the Philippines is
warm except some places like Baguio in the Mountain Province and Tagaytay, Rizal.
Labanos (from the Latin word Raphanus which evolved into rabanos which evolved into labanos) is a cool season vegetable so it is best to plant them in early spring and late fall. It needs moist and sandy soil for good drainage. Constant watering is a must in order to produce a good tuber or root. It would also be good to amend the soil with organic compost and periodically applying organic fertilizer. Growing radish or labanos is easy and most varieties grow quickly. You can actually harvest the salad varieties in about 25 -35 days. Sow seeds directly into the soil where you want them to grow because they do not transplant very well.
Labanos or radish can be eaten raw or cooked. My Mom used to make this radish salad, a mixture of thinly sliced radish, (she also dices the leaves and mix it in) thinly sliced red onion or shallots, and dressed with palm vinegar seasoned with salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar to counteract the pungency of the radish. It’s best to squeeze the sliced radish to reduce the sharp, peppery flavor. This salad is a good side dish for fried fish or barbecued pork. Radish is also a main ingredient in Sinigang, (sour-soup) using either pork, shrimp or fish. The leaves are also used in this recipes. It is also the main ingredient in our popular dish called “bopis” made of diced organ meats, stir-fried with garlic and onions, diced radish and seasoned with vinegar, salt and pepper.
Labanos or radish is not only delicious, it is also full of nutrients like folate, magnesium, potassium and an excellent source of Vitamin C.
Koreans and Japanese use radish extensively in their cuisine, like Kimchee and pickled daikon.