The Better Turnip: White Japanese Turnips

Photo: Kimi Harris.

One of my recent finds at my local farmers market was the Japanese white (salad) turnip. This turnip is unlike most turnips I’ve tried, as it is mild and sweet even when raw. It is also called the hakurei turnip or Japanese turnip.

While most turnips need to be tamed by heat, this sweet turnip is delicious raw. It doesn’t even need to be peeled, but can be simply scrubbed, sliced, and enjoyed. The farmer I was discussing this gem with pointed to my little year-and-a-half-old toddler and said that she might even enjoy it. However, she recommended that I peel them for children, as they tend to like it without the peel.

Turnips have had a bad rap for a while, but are starting to make a comeback. Instead of the scapegoat of vegetable horror stories, this vegetable is finding a place at many up and coming restaurants. The reason is simple: When fresh turnips are prepared correctly, they can be magical.

Turnips are a cousin to cabbage, and boasts two phytochemicals, indoles and sulforaphane, that may help fight or prevent cancer. They are also a good source of vitamin C and insoluble fiber.

If turnips aren’t yet on your menu, these lovely Japanese white turnips are a great introduction. They would make a lovely addition to a crudité plate or tossed into a green salad. I find them a delicious midday snack plain and unadorned!

However, when I buy them in bulk, I plan on trying some of these delicious recipes using this beautiful, humble root.