How to Cook Lo Bok

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Lo bok roots can be carved thickly or sliced thinly, depending on the dish.
Lo bok roots can be carved thickly or sliced thinly, depending on the dish. (Image: Image Source/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

More versatile than its cousin the red radish, lo bok -- also known as Asian radish, daikon or mooli -- has a milder taste and a carrot-like shape that takes to a variety of cooking methods. The white radish is frequently pickled, but also adds a mellow crunch to stir-fries or light soups. If you have a range of lo bok sizes to choose from, select the more massive roots to slice into thick rounds as the main ingredient in a braised vegetable dish, and more slender types for fashioning into daintier pickling or stir-fry ingredients.

Things You'll Need

  • Vegetable brush
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Paper towels
  • Chef's knife
  • Cutting board
  • Whisk
  • Mixing bowl
  • Small ladle

Sizzlingly Stir-Fried

Scrub lo bok under running water. Pat the radish dry, then peel it.

Chop lo bok crosswise into 2-inch sections, then cut thin slices from the sections. Stack the slices and cut them into matchstick pieces.

Peel and chop additional stir-fry ingredients, such as carrots, cabbage, beansprouts and mushrooms, as well as aromatics, such as ginger and garlic.

Prepare a stir-fry sauce. A ratio of 9 parts chicken broth, 6 parts rice wine and 1 part each cornstarch, sugar and salt, all whisked together, will flavor and thicken the stir-fry. Set the stir-fry sauce near the stove so it will be on hand when the vegetables are almost done.

Pour a small amount of vegetable or peanut oil in a wok or heavy-bottomed skillet. Heat it on a burner turned to medium-high.

Add carrots and any slower-cooking vegetables to the wok or skillet, and stir briskly for 3 minutes. Add the lo bok and cook an additional 2 minutes. Next, add quick-cooking ingredients such as aromatics, mushrooms and bean-sprouts, and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.

Ladle enough of the prepared stir-fry sauce over the vegetables to lightly coat them. Stir all of the ingredients together briefly for about 1 minute.

Remove from heat and spoon the stir-fry over rice, or into a serving bowl on its own.

Puckeringly Pickled

Scrub lo bok under running water. Pat the radish dry, then peel it.

Create crescent shapes from the lo bok by cutting the root in half lengthwise, then thinly slicing the long sections crosswise. Set the slices into a bowl.

Sprinkle the sliced lo bok with a spoonful of kosher salt and leave to stand in the bowl for 1 hour. Drain the radishes after they have "wept" excess moisture, but don't rinse off the salt.

Whisk together 4 parts rice vinegar, 3 parts sugar and 1 part peeled and thinly-sliced ginger. This will act as the pickling liquid.

Put the lo bok slices back into the bowl. Drizzle several spoonfuls of the pickling liquid over the lo bok and toss until all pieces are coated.

Cover the bowl with a lid or aluminum foil and set it in the refrigerator overnight. The pickled lo bok will keep for about three weeks, if chilled.

Briefly Braised

Scrub lo bok under running water. Pat the radish dry, then peel it.

Slice lo bok crosswise into rounds that are about 2 inches thick.

Whisk together a braising liquid made of 5 parts Japanese sake, or a sake/mirin mix, and 2 parts water, with soy sauce and sugar to taste.

Put the lo bok disks in the saucepan and cover them with the braising liquid.

Turn the heat to medium-high until the liquid boils. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover the pot.

Leave the lo bok to simmer in the braising liquid for 1 hour, turning the disks once or twice during the cooking time.

Remove the lo bok when the pieces are tender and set them into individual soup bowls, one or two disks per bowl.

Turn the burner to medium-high to reduce the braising liquid slightly. If you wish, add a handful of quick-cooking vegetables such as bok-choy and sliced scallions.

Spoon the optional vegetables into the bowl next to the lo bok disks, then spoon braising liquid over the contents of the bowl.

Tips & Warnings

  • A slightly more involved version of pickled lo bok is the Korean staple known as kimchi, which combines cubed lo bok with cabbage and hot spices, and is set to ferment at room temperature before storage in order to last for several months.
  • Consider replacing your usual round red radishes in salads for sliced lo bok. The flavor is milder, which means you can add more of thinly-sliced pieces to lettuce than you would the more peppery red radish.
  • Sliced or grated lo bok is also a traditional sushi ingredient.

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