What's The Difference: Singkamas vs. Labanos

IMAGE Shutterstock
ILLUSTRATOR Roselle Miranda

How can two vegetables be more different? The singkamas and the labanos are definitely different but also share a few surprising similarities, too. 

Both are translucent white in color once peeled and even have similar textures. When cooked, both the singkamas and the labanos turn even more translucent. In fact, neither vegetable needs to be cooked at all. Just like singkamas or jicama can be eaten raw, so can the labanos or daikon radish

Curious how these two vegetables are different apart from their obvious differences in looks? Here are the facts:  

Singkamas is a turnip. Labanos is a radish. 

This might be the biggest difference between the two. A turnip is not a radish and vice versa. These are two different vegetables but can be used in many ways that are similar. While singkamas is commonly eaten raw, the labanos is commonly cooked, especially in dishes like sinigang

jicama or singkamas on a white background
This is what singkamas or jicama looks like.
Photo by Shutterstock
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2 Singkamas is part of the roots. Labanos is part of the plant. 

In the plant world, these two vegetables are different. That's because while both are considered root vegetables, the singkamas is dug up from the soil while the labanos is usually only partially buried in the soil. This is why the singkamas is a root vegetable since it grows under the soil and away from the sunlight much like potatoes.  


The labanos meanwhile is buried almost completely in the soil but the top part is exposed to the sunlight and the plant grows from the tops, similar to a carrot. That's why the labanos also has roots but is topped with a crown of green stems. 

Singkamas is sweet and starchy. Labanos is peppery. 

When you take a bite of each raw vegetable, the difference is stark. Both are actually quite crunchy when raw but that's where any similarities end. Singkamas is watery with an aftertaste of starchy and a touch sweet, which is why it makes a great addition to salads! Try these singkamas salad recipes:

Singkamas Salad Recipe

Curry Singkamas Salad Recipe

Grilled Prawns with Carrots and Singkamas Recipe

The labanos meanwhile is totally the opposite. It's got a bite that's peppery and almost like the punch of wasabi but milder but it also has a sweetness underneath the sharp flavors. It tastes great in stews and soups, and is delicious pickled, too! Try these recipes with labanos:


Sinigang na Baboy (Pork Sinigang) Recipe

Pickled Radish Recipe

Fried Radish Cake Recipe

labanos or daikon radish
This is what a labanos or daikon radish looks like.
Photo by Shutterstock

4 Singkamas is brined or usually served with bagoongLabanos is pickled or fermented like kimchi. 

One of the many ways you'll love the singkamas served beyond being served as part of a dish is when it's been salted brined. It can also be stored in water and instead be served with a generous helping of bagoong alamang, usually on a stick, as street food fare. It's common to find this food on a stick together with the mangga't bagoong sellers. 


The labanos is similar in the sense that it too can be brined or, to be more precise, pickled. It's a common snack for those who love Korean cuisine. This is also prepared like kimchi, slathered with lots of chili powder and fermented until its delicious and crisp-tender. 


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on Yummy.ph by submitting your recipe here.

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