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Daikon-Carrot Salad with Sesame and Lemon

Makes about 3 cups

30 minutes plus marinating

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As Sonoko Sakai, author of “Japanese Home Cooking” explains, many vinegared Japanese salads fall somewhere between a pickle and a conventional salad, and this namasu is a good example. Meant to be served in small portions, as most Japanese pickles are, this daikon and carrot salad is traditional at New Year’s, but there’s no reason the refreshingly crunchy, tangy-sweet tangle of textures can’t be served year-round. For our adaptation of Sakai’s recipe, we skipped the harder-to-source ingredients (such as dried persimmon and yuzu) for the more widely available substitutes that she suggests (dried apricots and lemon). We also use water instead of dashi (Japanese stock) for the marinade, but if you have dashi, use an equal amount; it will add umami to make the vegetables taste fuller and richer. Though the salad is simple to make, it requires a two-step process: first, the vegetables are rubbed with salt and squeezed of moisture. Then they are dressed and marinated for at least four hours (or up to one week). A mortar and pestle works well for grinding the sesame seeds, or give them two or three pulses in an electric spice grinder.

Makes about 3



Don’t be shy about massaging the daikon and carrots with the salt. Use your hands to work the salt into the vegetables until they begin to wilt. A technique used in many types of Japanese pickles, this step forces the vegetables to release some of their water and renders their texture crunchy-crisp. Table salt has a fine texture that works best for this, so don’t use kosher salt.

30 minutes

plus marinating


  • 1

    pound daikon radish, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks

  • 1

    medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks


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Amy T.

Wow- this was tasty. Despite what the recipe suggested, I ate it in great quantity. I was able to find dried persimmon at a Korean grocer. I used them instead of apricot, but I don't think the final taste was that different, given the other flavors.