You can’t walk into a bar in Spain without seeing someone eating the classic tapa, Patatas Bravas (meaning “fierce potatoes”). Fried chunks of potatoes drizzled with a spicy paprika-garlic sauce is hard to beat when it comes to bar food, but it can scare off the carb- or calorie-conscious. Why not smear that bravas sauce all over something a little healthier?
Daikon might be the answer. Like a mild-tasting radish on steroids, daikon literally means ” large root ” in Japanese. It is a staple in Asian cooking where it is pickled, stir-fried, boiled in soups, fried in fritters, or eaten raw. But for some reason it’s kind of ignored in the west, its obscurity putting it on the exotic vegetable list. But hopefully not for long! It’s a more flavorful, less starchy, healthier alternative to potato. With only 21 calories, 5g carbs, and 2g fiber per cup (and very rich in vitamin C and copper) you health nuts out there should make daikon your new best friend.
Keep in mind that because daikon is less starchy and more watery than potato, it can’t perfectly pose as a potato. With some high-heat roasting or frying, you can achieve a slightly crisped outside with a tender, moist interior, but don’t expect curly-fry crunch. I chose the roasting method to make this dish even more guilt-free.
If you can’t find daikon, you can experiment with a different root veggie like turnip, parsnip or rutabaga. Or if you want to make the traditional version of patatas bravas, just use the recipe below for the sauce but drizzle it on fried potatoes instead. Either way, the dish should be served with toothpicks and cañas (small glasses of cheap beer so that it’s always ice-cold) and shared among friends.
Roasted Daikon 'Bravas Style'
- 1 small daikon radish, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil + 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
- 1 guindilla pepper, sliced into a few large pieces
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika (pimentón dulce)
- 1 teaspoons regular paprika (pimentón picante)
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup sherry wine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
- Parsley to garnish
Toss the cubed daikon in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with some sea salt and roast at 450 degrees for 35 minutes or until tender, flipping the daikon pieces over with a spatula every 10 minutes or so.
Meanwhile you can start making the bravas sauce by heating the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, garlic, and guindilla pepper and sauté for 4-5 minutes or until the shallot is softened and the garlic is light golden. Stir in the two types of paprika and sauté 1 more minute. Add the tomato paste, water, salt and sherry wine and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Finally, puree the mixture in a blender until nice and smooth.
When the daikon is done roasting, serve with the bravas sauce drizzled on top and garnish with chopped parsley.