Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnips Recipe

Tokyo-turnips are small radish-like turnips. They have a delicious spicy bite when eaten raw and have a buttery taste and crunch when cooked. They have become my new favorite obsession, as they are so cute, and make an excellent accompaniment to any protein or merely part of a large vegetable spread! This recipe pairs well with an Asian meal. You can use any chili oil or sauce you have on hand.
half eaten tokyo turnips

Did you know you can make a mouthwatering healthy, and delicious vegetable side in under 10 minutes? Trust me; you won’t even realize you’re eating a vegetable and won’t be able to eat just one! This Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnip recipe is so good it’ll become your downright guiltless pleasure! These mini tubers have a somewhat spicy yet buttery and smooth taste when cooked and are sensational when seared to golden brown perfection. They are coated in a delicate garlic soy sauce and have the perfect crunch.

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What are Tokyo turnips?

Tokyo turnips are a newer type of turnip cultivated in Japan in the 1950s. It’s also known as the Hakurei, Kabu, and Salad turnip. 

Can you eat Tokyo turnips raw?

Yes, Tokyo turnips are the only turnips you can eat raw. They have delicate skin that is edible.

Can you eat Tokyo turnip greens/leaves?

The green leaves and stem of the turnip are also edible. They have a slightly peppery bite and can be a bit bitter. However, braising, steaming, or sauteing reduces the sharpness.

Is this Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnip dish healthy for you?

This dish is incredibly healthy for you! Tokyo turnips are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamins C, K, A, calcium, and folate. The richness of the sesame oil also provides a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.

What does this Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnip dish taste like?

The turnips have a crispy exterior and a buttery smooth but slightly fruity inside. They have a perfect crunch and become glossy and luxurious as they are coated in garlic soy sauce.

Why did I choose to create this Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnip dish?

I wanted to play with Japanese flavors to create a healthy vegetable dish that is both hearty and incredibly satisfying! These tubers achieve the perfect bite as they are first blanched in salted water and then become irresistible when seared in the fragrant, nutty garlic sesame oil. This dish reaches perfection when soy sauce is added, and each golden turnip gets coated with the luxurious sauce.

Here’s how to make Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnips

Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnip Ingredients

Tokyo turnips: I like to clean the turnips and leave a slight piece of the green stem. These turnips are much more delicate and sweet than full-sized turnips. It makes them beautiful for plating, and all vegetable parts are edible.

Garlic: The garlic infuses in the sesame oil to create a wonderful sauce combined with the soy sauce. 

Kosher Salt: Salt is an absolute must when cooking. The salt acts as a chemical agent to help cook the vegetable from the inside out. Salt also brings out the natural sweetness of the turnips. 

Toasted Sesame Oil: I love using toasted sesame oil for its nutty and rich flavor. This deepens the flavor profiles of the dish and makes it truly heavenly.

Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is the perfect complement to the garlic and the toasted sesame oil. It gives this dish an added amount of umami. I always use low-sodium soy sauce to reduce the final amount of salt.

Halved turnips, sesame oil, soy sauce, salt and garlic cloves laid out on a bluish speckled table top

Needed Equipment

Cutting board

Chef’s knife or Santoku Knife

Colander

Japanese Mandolin  

Cut Resistant Glove for the Mandolin

Large Pot for blanching

Large Chef mixing Spoon

Tongs

Wooden Spoon

Large Sauté Pan

Measuring Spoon Set

Process: 

  1. Wash the turnips to remove any dirt or debris. 
  1. Remove the greens from the bulb and leave about ½ inch of the stem. 
removing the greens from turnips
tokyo turnips with the stems cut off
close up on tokyo turnip
  1. Slice the turnips in half lengthwise. 
a bowl of Tokyo turnips and some turnips being chopped on a wooden chopping board.
Tokyo turnips halved on a wooden cutting board
  1. Use a mandolin to slice the thin garlic paper. If you do not have a mandolin, you can use a thin knife; try to slice the garlic as thin as possible.
mandolin next to garlic cloves
garlic cloves being sliced thinly on a mandolin
thinly sliced garlic on a wooden cutting board
  1. Place a pot of water over high heat and salt the water so it tastes “salty like the sea.”
  2. Allow for the water to come to a boil, and then submerge the turnips. 
chopped turnips being placed into a pot of boiling water.
  1. Cook for 30-40 seconds until the turnips are tender but still have a crunch.
turnips blanching in a pot of boiling water
  1. Strain the turnips into a colander and submerge them in ice-cold water or an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Reserve. 
strained turnips in a stainless steal colander
  1. Place a large sauté pan over moderate heat and coat with the sesame oil. 
  2. When the oil has ripples or waves and starts to smoke, for about 1 minute, add the turnips with the flat side facing down in the pan.
turnips sautéing in a pan
  1. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the turnips have a golden-brown crust. 
close up on a sautéed turnip
  1. Flip the turnips, reduce the flame to low, and season with a pinch of salt.
  2. Add the garlic and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes until the garlic has infused in the oil and is slightly crispy and the turnips are coated in the infused oil.
sauteed turnips in a pan with garlic slices
Sauteed turnips and garlic
  1. Add the soy sauce and cook for 30-40 seconds. Lift the garlic from the bottom of the pan into the sauce with a wooden spoon or tongs. Toss with tongs so everything is mixed and the turnips are coated in the sauce. 
soy sauce being added to turnips and sauteed garlic
caramelized turnips and garlic in a pan
  1. Serve and enjoy!
plate of crispy turnip in a white plate

Tips and tricks for success:

  • You can reserve the greens for another recipe or sauté them separately after the bulbs. It’s not recommended to sauté them together because the bulbs and the stems have very different cooking times. The greens are much more fragile. 
  • The essential steps for blanching: 
  • Blanching: Elements submerged in boiling water for a short time to “par-cook” until tender. Once removed from the boiling water, it is best to shock the elements in cold or iced water to stop the cooking process completely. Doing this will maintain and uphold the element’s vibrancy and natural texture.  
  • 1) Your water must be “salty like the sea.” The salt acts as a “cooking agent,” cooking the vegetable from the inside out. You should taste your salted water before it comes to a boil, and it should resemble seawater. 
  • 2) Do not overcrowd your water. Blanch your ingredients in batches at a rolling boil. If you add too many elements to the water, the heat of your water will lower, defeating the purpose of blanching. 
  • 3) If you are blanching in batches, allow your water to come back up to a roiling boiling before you submerge the next round. 
  • Make sure you work fast to incorporate the turnips when adding garlic into the sauté pan. Garlic crisps and burns quite quickly, so you want to use your wooden spoon or tongs to mix everything over moderate heat. 
close up on a turnip between chop sticks being held over a plate of turnips

FAQS

Why did I choose to blanch this Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnip dish before sauteing?

Blanching the turnips creates the ideal base for this dish. It par cooks the tubers but still keeps the integrity and structure of the vegetable. Then, when you sauté them, you can do so over high heat for a short time to create that beautifully even golden crust. 

Where can I buy Tokyo turnips?

Most Fall and Spring farmer’s markets should have these tasty tubers. They can also be found in organic supermarkets during this time when they are in season.  

Variations

Replacements for Turnips: Bok Choy, broccoli, Chinese broccoli, Chinese greens

Nut or Seed Allergy: Avocado oil also works wonderfully 

Soy/ Gluten Allergy: You can use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce. 

Suggested Meal Pairings

Salmon, Yellowtail, and Toro Jalapeño Sashimi

Soy-Butter Carrot Noodles with Mushrooms

Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Cake

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Crispy Sesame Tokyo Turnips

For me, these turnips take a once forgotten and boring vegetable and make them into an in-vogue and crush-worthy vegetable side! The size of these little cuties and their creamy finish is truly sensational. When you brown them after blanching, the crispy exterior makes them completely swoon-worthy!
Prep Time 8 mins
Cook Time 1 min
Total Time 10 mins
Course Vegetable Sides
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4
Calories 263 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Cutting board
  • 1 Chef's knife
  • 1 Colander
  • 1 Japanese mandolin
  • 1 Cut Resistant Glove for the Mandolin
  • 1 Large pot for blanching
  • 1 Large Chef mixing Spoon
  • 1 Pair of Tongs
  • 1 Wooden Spoon
  • 1 Large Sauté Pan
  • 1 Measuring Spoon Set

Ingredients
  

  • 6 (2 bunches) Tokyo turnips, sliced in half
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbs Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt

Instructions
 

  • Wash the turnips to remove any dirt or debris.
  • Remove the greens from the bulb and leave about ½ inch of the stem.
  • Slice the turnips in half lengthwise.
  • Use a mandolin to slice the thin garlic paper. If you do not have a mandolin, you can use a thin knife; try to slice the garlic as thin as possible.
  • Place a pot of water over high heat and salt the water so it tastes “salty like the sea.”
  • Allow for the water to come to a boil, and then submerge the turnips.
  • Cook for 30-40 seconds until the turnips are tender but still have a crunch.
  • Strain the turnips into a colander and submerge them in ice-cold water or an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Reserve.
  • Place a large sauté pan over moderate heat and coat with the sesame oil.
  • When the oil has ripples or waves and starts to smoke, for about 1 minute, add the turnips with the flat side facing down in the pan.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes until the turnips have a golden-brown crust.
  • Flip the turnips, reduce the flame to low, and season with a pinch of salt.
  • Add the garlic and continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes until the garlic has infused in the oil and is slightly crispy and the turnips are coated in the infused oil.
  • Add the soy sauce and cook for 30-40 seconds. Lift the garlic from the bottom of the pan into the sauce with a wooden spoon or tongs. Toss with tongs so everything is mixed, and the turnips are coated in the sauce.
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can reserve the greens for another recipe or sauté them separately after the bulbs. It’s not recommended to sauté them together because the bulbs and the stems have very different cooking times. The greens are much more fragile.
  • The essential steps for blanching:
  • Blanching: Elements submerged in boiling water for a short time to “par-cook” until tender. Once removed from the boiling water, it is best to shock the elements in cold or iced water to stop the cooking process completely. Doing this will maintain and uphold the element’s vibrancy and natural texture.  
  • 1) Your water must be “salty like the sea.” The salt acts as a “cooking agent,” cooking the vegetable from the inside out. You should taste your salted water before it comes to a boil, and it should resemble seawater. 
  • 2) Do not overcrowd your water. Blanch your ingredients in batches at a rolling boil. If you add too many elements to the water, the heat of your water will lower, defeating the purpose of blanching. 
  • 3) If you are blanching in batches, allow your water to come back up to a roiling boiling before you submerge the next round. 
  • Make sure you work fast to incorporate the turnips when you add the garlic into the sauté pan. Garlic crisps and burns quite quickly, so you want to use your wooden spoon or tongs to mix everything over moderate heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 263kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 9gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 609mgPotassium: 1733mgFiber: 16gSugar: 35gVitamin C: 192mgCalcium: 283mgIron: 3mg
Keyword crispy Tokyo turnips, Tokyo turnips, Tokyo turnips recipe
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About Sarah
Sarah blair

Adding a generous dose of enthusiasm, excitement, and creativity to the culinary world, Sarah began her career at the French Culinary Institute in NYC. Sarah has worked for the past decade as a Culinary Producer and Food Stylist.

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