What Is Labanos And Ways To Add It To Your Dish

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Many cultivate and eat labanos or radish throughout the world. We mostly eat it raw like a salad. It has a distinct smell and comes in two colors: reddish and white. The chemical compound in the plant makes it an ideal companion plant, meaning farmers use it to lure insects away. It is a natural pesticide to plants like lettuce, which some have found to be rather sensitive. Radish germinates quickly, making it ideal for novice gardeners.

In the Philippines, the labanos is the daikon variety, the white tubular kind, are popular and can be seen in most markets. It is crunchy like a carrot but has a more acidic and slightly bitter aftertaste with spicy undertones. 

Nutrient-wise, the underrated labanos has won the plant genetic lottery. Here's how nutritious it is: 

  • Carbs: 14 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Vitamin C: 124% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Calories: 12 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 2.0 grams
  • Protein: 0.35 grams
  • Dietary Fiber: 1 gram
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All these nutrition facts mean that the labanos is keto diet-friendly because it is low in carbs yet high in protein. When you find yourself craving for a potato, substitute the radish instead.

Many Asian cultures incorporate radish in their stews and soup, elevating its status as a superfood with remarkable ability to aid digestion, boost the immune system and gently cleanse the body. Porcelain Asian skins might be incentive enough to start munching radishes. 

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Organic Benefits of the Labanos 

If all those numbers mean nothing to you, here's what else this super veggie is good for: 

  • • Anti-microbial properties: Some health advocates add raw labanos to their health drink for added Vitamin C and because studies have shown its ability to rid of phlegm in your lungs.
  • • Improves digestion: It has an enzyme similar to one found in the human digestive tract (amylase) so it helps break down food and prevents constipation
  • • Cleansing properties: Because it stimulates urination and other bodily waste functions, it detoxifies the body
  • • Boost immune system: It has a large amount of Vitamin C yet low calorie and sugar count
  • • Inexpensive and easy to grow: Labanos is relatively cheap because it is easy to grow yourself.

Once you know how good the labanos is for you, here are ways to enjoy this veggie: 

1 Eat labanos raw. 

It is a unique salad addition, atcharang labanos or pickled radish is easy to make. It is cubed daikon radish in a brine solution of equal parts sugar and white vinegar along with salt. It is a perfect accompaniment to any fried dish. Korean usually pair this with fried chicken. Let the radish stand in the solution for 3 to 4 days.

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2 Roast labanos. 

Add to your staple of vegetables for your roasts. They will not be crunchy but will have a caramelized exterior. You can substitute them for higher calorie count vegetables.

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3 Slow cook labanos.

Aside from your usual sinigang fare, consider radish for your nilaga or other meaty soups, especially pork or beef ribs. Extremely popular in the Chinese menu is the Cantonese braised beef hotpot with radish. Since daikon radish absorbs the flavorful braising, the resulting liquid is mellowed and develops a slight sweet juicy flavor.  You can use them in place of potatoes in a variety of meals; try using them in your next meaty braising dish or in a veggie soup to add new layers of taste and texture.

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4 Make radish cakes. 

Radish Cake is usually a staple in most dim sum houses. You can make your own version. Some prefer to eat it as is but most lightly fry it to have that light exterior crusting and dip it in chili garlic or oyster sauce. 

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5 Make kimchi using labanos

Turn labanos to Radish Kimchi. Kimchi is a staple food in Korean cuisine and is a traditional side dish made from a variety of seasonings including gochujang, spring onions, garlic, ginger, and Korean chili flakes, among others. A number of soups and stews contain this ingredient as well. The usual ingredients are napa cabbage and daikon radish.

Here's what you'll need: 

  • daikon radish, peeled and cubed
  • green onion stalks
  • sugar
  • rock salt
  • onions
  • red apple, sliced and cored
  • anchovy sauce or bagoong balayan
  • minced garlic and ginger
  • chili flakes
  • rice flour

How To Make Radish Kimchi

  1. 1 Placed cubed labanos in a bowl with sugar and salt and leave to ferment for a minimum of 1 hour.
  2. 2 In a blender, pulse onion, apple, and fish sauce. Set aside the rice flour and water solution and mix with the apple onion mixture. Toss in the chili flakes and combine the ingredients thoroughly. 
  3. 3 Wash and drain the fermented labanos, sprinkle chili flakes before adding the kimchi base from step 2. Finish with the green onion stalks. Store in a sterilized air-tight container at room temperature for around 12 hours before transferring to the refrigerator. The ideal curing period is around 3 days to fully enjoy its flavor.
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Start getting familiar with the labanos! Clearly, it has many benefits yet is low in calories, adds depth to your dishes, will not tip your weighing scale nor will it stretch your budget. All these make this the next vegetable superstar.

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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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