Chinese Daikon Soup Recipe

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In this Chinese Daikon Soup Recipe, you’ll learn:

  • Use just 3 or 4 ingredients.
  • Shortcut to clear, clean broth (no gunk!)
  • Use dried scallops for big flavor booster (optional.)
  • How to simmer on stovetop or use pressure cooker.

Chinese soups can be heavy, filling and fiery, such as Chinese Hot & Sour Soup, or light, clean and cleansing, like this Chinese Daikon Soup. These kinds of everyday soups are simple to make, require just a handful of ingredients (in this case, four ingredients – actually, three, if you don’t want to use cilantro) and so good for you.

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There are 2 essential ingredients to this soup: daikon and pork. An optional ingredient is dried scallops (we’ll talk more about that later) and garnish with fresh cilantro. At times, I like to also add carrots to the soup.

Shortcut to clean, clear broth

Have you ever made meat or bone broth and seen white or grayish foam forming on top of the water? What is it? Well, it’s a combination of surface protein, dirt, minuscule bone fragments, fats, etc. All that stuff can make your broth cloudy and gritty.

For the best broth made from meat and/or bones, the raw meat must first be parboiled for a few minutes in order to remove all that “gunk.” I do this by bringing a large pot of water to a boil, then adding the bones/meat to the water and return to a hard, rolling boil for about 5-7 minutes. The rollicking, harsh boiling water will give the meat a good wash and scrub, releasing particles, solidifying protein, loosening and bits that don’t belong in my clear broth. Then, I’ll drain the dirty water, give the meat or bones a rinse and start the broth afresh with clean water in the pot.

While all this does take an extra 15 minutes of your time, it’s absolutely worth the effort.

There’s a shortcut to this, especially if you’re only using chunks of meat to make the broth. We buy pork roasts when they are on sale, then cut them up into smaller-than-fist sized chunks to freeze and make soups.

Why meat vs. bone/meat? It’s just a preference. Lean meats make lean broths. If you’re watching your cholesterol and fat intake, use lean pork (or skinless chicken breast meat.)

Mom’s Shortcut

This shortcut shaves the parboiling time down from 15 minutes to just 3 minutes.

Bring a quart of water to a boil. My Mom has an electric hot water kettle. At my house, I just use the hot water directly from my instant hot water dispenser (which I can’t live without!).

Place the pork in a shallow bowl.

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Pour just half of the boiling hot water on top of the pork.

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Give each piece of pork a jiggle in the boiling water. Turn the pork over.

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Drain and discard the cloudy water.

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Pour the remaining half of the boiling water on pork again.

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Give each piece a jiggle and wiggle and discard the cloudy, dirty water again.

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Final step: rinse the pork with cool water from the faucet. Now it’s clean, and ready for broth making.

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What is Daikon?

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Daikon is white radish that’s mild and sweet in flavor when cooked, and delicate yet with a spicy kick when grated and eaten raw. In Asia, the daikon is used in so many ways: pickled, fried, simmered, stewed, grated, mashed and shredded. In Chinese cuisine, it’s most popular use is in soups, braised for hours with beef, or shredded to use in steamed and pan-fried daikon cake.

You’ve probably eaten it raw at Japanese sushi restaurants (they serve it in a finely shredded mount along with sashimi), or julienned and pickled with carrots at a Vietnamese restaurant.

They last quite a long time in the refrigerator. To store, I cut off as much green leaves as possible, wrap each daikon tightly in plastic wrap and store in crisper. They’ll last for at least one week.

To use, peel with vegetable peeler first, trim and discard the tip and end. To prepare for this Chinese Daikon Soup recipe, you’ll cut the daikon into chunks.

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What are Dried Scallops?

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Our Daikon soup is made with pork broth and flavored with dried scallops if you have them. Dried scallops are expensive a little harder to find outside of Asian supermarkets, so it’s an optional ingredient. The dried scallops give the soup a big flavor boost of umami, but here are ingredient substitutions to add umami (deep, meaty, savory flavor):

  • Dried Chinese or shiitake mushrooms (3-4 whole)
  • Fresh Chinese or shiitake mushrooms (4-5 whole)
  • Dried shrimp (1 tablespoon)
  • Small chunk of salt-cured ham, like Virginia country ham (1-2 ounces)

Or – just leave it out! We’ve made this soup plenty of times without the expensive dried scallops or other flavor boosters.

If you are using dried scallops for soup, you can just rinse the scallops (gets rid of any dust) and plop them into your pot for soup. If you are using the scallops in a stir fry, you must soak the dried scallops in hot water for about 15-30 minutes before using (depends on how big the scallops are.) You can then shred the scallops with your fingers.

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Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker or Stovetop

This Chinese Daikon Soup can be made in a pressure cooker, slow cooker or on the stove.

For Pressure Cooker

Add all ingredients, fill with water and set to cook 20 minutes under pressure.

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We’re testing out the Ming Tsai Pressure Cooker that HSN sells – it’s such a popular item that it’s been sold out since the day it appeared on-air with Ming Tsai! I’ll write a separate review of the pressure cooker another time.

After cooking under pressure, you can wait for the pressure to release naturally, or you can manually release it. I like using a thick terry kitchen towel and tongs.

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After the soup is done, you can discard the pork meat, season with salt and serve with minced fresh cilantro if desired.

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For Slow Cookers

Add all ingredients to slow cooker. Set to cook low for 8 hours (or more)

For Stovetop

Add all ingredients to large pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with lid, leaving a little gap for steam to escape and simmer for 1 hour (good) or 2 hours (better) or 3 hours (best flavor.)

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Chinese Daikon Soup Recipe

Servings: 6-8 Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours
Chinese Daikon Soup Recipe

Use any kind of pork for this soup - I use what ever is one sale! Spareribs, roast, loin all work great. You'll season with salt at the end. Remember that Chinese soups aren't meant to be overly salty - this soup should be delicate in flavor, just a hint of salt. Note: You can add in chunks of carrots along with the daikon, if you'd like.

Ingredients:

1 pound pork
1 large daikon (10 ounces), peeled and cut into large chunks
4 dried scallops (optional)
salt
fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Par boil the pork as shown in photos, then rinse well to clean. In a large pot, add in the pork, daikon and scallops (if using), fill with 8-10 cups of water (depending on capacity of pot.)

Pressure Cooker: Cook under pressure for 20 minutes
Slow Cooker: Low 8 hours
Stovetop: Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with lid, leaving a little gap for steam to escape and simmer for 2 hours (or more)

Season with salt - start with 1 teaspoon, stir and taste. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

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Comments 19

  1. Kelly

    I love the shortcut for parboiling the bones. Such a great idea! It’s cold and rainy here today so it’s the perfect soup weather. Looks so comforting and delicious!

    1. Pat Hodges

      You make it sound so easy. I’m going to make a marker run in the morning and give it a try. Wih me luck and thank you and your Mom.

  2. Jasmine

    This sounds delicious!!! I was just curious since I do not eat pork, can I make this the same exact way with beef or chicken (or does it not work as well?)
    Love your blog!!

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  3. Meryll

    I didn’t know dried shitake adds umami flavor, I will try that next time. I usually use some bonito flakes with a sheet of kelp. I love daikon soup, been making it with beef but I don’t make it as often now because the recipe I use calls for fish sauce. I will definitely try this recipe it’s so simple and clean.

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      Jaden

      Meryll = You’ll love this recipe! I use bonito/kelp a lot for soups too – I especially like the bonito that’s packaged in mesh bags, ready for use.

  4. Karen

    So can I use Mom’s Shortcut with chicken breasts to make a clear chicken broth or should I stick to your method? Thanks for both.

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  5. Sharon Huey

    I tried “mom’s trick” this morning. I still had to skim the scum off though; did I do something wrong? The yucky stuff was less than usual, and it was less gray too, so this method is still worth it.

    Can’t wait to have soup for lunch! Thanks, Jaden.

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      Jaden

      Hi Sharon! You’ll always get a little bit of scum on surface, but it should be drastically less than without the technique. Also, try simmering on lower heat when you’re making the soup. The grayish scum is what you DON’T want – and that’s mostly gone from the parboiling or rinsing.

  6. Barbara

    Jaden I love the sound of this…will give it a try. When you say discard the meat do you not eat the pork or has it served it’s purpose and it’s meant to be thrown away?

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  7. cheri

    Delicious! Also added at end a few stalks of mustard greens for bright colour and extra nutrition. Can’t wait to make up another pot.

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