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Cooking with daikon: These three dishes get bold with umami

Daikon and bok choy Strir-fry can be spiced up as you wish or kept cool for those who don’t like the heat

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Daikon radish is suddenly trendy, popping up on both Asian and non-Asian menus. It's a giant radish, long, white and elegant looking. It tastes milder and creamier than regular radish and has a flavour similar to broccoli stems.

These dishes can be spiced up as you wish or kept cool for those who don't like the heat.

Chicken and daikon radish

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Mushrooms in black bean sauce

Fiery rice

Wine pairings:

These recipes are chock full of umami. That's the so-called "fifth" taste (in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter), which is associated strongly with fermented foods, such as soy sauce, and certain long-simmered foods, such as broth. Although wine-friendly for the most part, umami tends to clash with bitter tannins. That's one reason I would steer clear of highly tannic reds, such as young cabernet or syrah, and opt instead for fruitier styles. The piquant character of the flavourings here also nudge us toward bold fruit, especially punchy, aromatic whites. A top choice: chenin blanc, which tends to deliver a satisfying combination of round, heat-taming fruitiness and zippy acidity. France's Loire Valley is the grape's spiritual homeland (think Vouvray and Savennières), responsible for sweet as well as dry versions, but South Africa is the biggest producer and makes very good bargain-priced and usually dry chenin blanc. - Beppi Crosariol

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