They both have radish in their name and they look an awful lot alike. Could daikon radish and horseradish actually be the same exact thing?
The Short Answer:
No, daikon radish and horseradish are two completely different plants.
The Long Answer:
If it looks like horseradish, and it’s called a radish, it must be horseradish, right?
That’s the school of thought that has led many to incorrectly assume that a daikon radish and horseradish are the same plant. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Daikon is a winter radish that grows primarily in California. The name “daikon” is translated from Japanese as “big root.” Daikon can reach two feet in length and some round varieties can reach up to 100 pounds. If you’ve ever eaten daikon radish, you’ll know right away that it is not the same thing as horseradish. Horseradish has a very distinct and spicy taste that is not common in radishes.
That’s because horseradish is not a radish at all. It shares the same plant family as radishes, but that’s where the similarities end. Horseradish is a completely different species from all forms of radish, including daikon.
If you were to look at these two plants side by side, it would be understandable how you could mix them up. They look very similar. If you pick a horseradish up and smell it, you’re not going to be knocked back by the powerful aroma that it’s known for. That’s because horseradish’s flavor is not present in its natural state.
If you were to cut open or bite into a horseradish root, it releases a compound that creates the familiar smell and flavor of this pungent plant. It’s a defense mechanism meant to keep the plant safe from herbivores looking to take a bite out of it.
Daikon radishes and all radishes for that matter don’t work like that. This is just another way you can tell that these two plants are nothing alike.
Have you ever mistaken a daikon radish for horseradish? What is your favorite recipe involving both of these root vegetables? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!