Pungent food list

Pungent food list

The pungent taste is the hottest of all five tastes and can be found in numerous vegetables (chili peppers, garlic, and onions) and in spices (black pepper, ginger, and cayenne). The difference between spicy and pungent is negligible. In small amounts, the pungent taste can stimulate digestion, clear congested sinuses, promote sweating and detoxification, help to discharge gas, improve circulation and relieve some types of muscle pain. The pungent taste also helps emulsify fat from oily foods. A pungent food list would include: fresh garlic and ginger, mustard, turnips, scallion, red, white or black radish, and horseradish.

Flavors can balance or counteract one another.  Example:  To balance spice with sweet, Mexican cuisine benefits from a pinch of cayenne pepper directly to the hot, steaming chocolate. The spice combines with the sweet of the chocolate producing a stronger, more dynamic flavor. If you find that a dish might be lacking something uncertain, try adding a bit of the pungent flavor.

Chart of the Five Tastes
Here are some familiar and compatible taste partnerships between the Five Tastes:

  • Cooked or Raw Salad Greens
    Use Lemon (Sour) with Soy Sauce (Salty), or Ginger (Pungent) with Miso (Salty)
  • Whole Grain Dishes
    As A Garnish
Use Parsley (Bitter), Chopped Salted Nuts (Salty), or Chopped Peppers (Pungent)
  • Cooked Bitter Greens
    (Ex: Collard Greens/Arugula/Mustard Greens) Use Well-Cooked Onions (Sweet), or Lime (Sour)
  • Vegan Rice & Vegetable Sushi
    Use Ginger (Pungent), Soy Sauce (Salty) and Daikon Radish (Pungent), as a dip

Try some of the examples below to select complimentary tastes for your meal creations: 

Cooked Cabbage Carrots
, Fresh Corn, Select Fruits, Whole Grains,
 Cooked Onions, Parsnips
, Butternut Squash, Kabocha, Squash, Yams, Boiled Radish, Cinnamon

Sea Salt, Capers
, Sea Vegetables, Fermented Preparations: Miso,
 Soy Sauce,  Pickles

, Vinegar, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Umeboshi Plum, Crab Apples

 Collard Greens, Endive,
 Kale, Mustard Green,
, Turnip Greens, Citrus Zest,

White Daikon,  Raw Garlic,  Peppers,
 Raw Onions,  Red Radish, Scallions, Horseradish (aka: “wasabi”), Spices, Cilantro

(photo above: Red onion and Daikon, or White Radish)
© Verne Varona

Daikon and Carrots Recipe

What is daikon, anyway?
As you can see from the photo above, daikon looks a lot like a carrot, only it is white. It can be as large as a small baseball bat, or as small as a little bunch of carrots, and is a root vegetable in the radish family, which tastes a little pungent.

Daikon can be eaten raw, cooked, roasted or pickled, and as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and natural diuretic, this white radish is at the top of my list for a daily dose of deliciousness!

This is my favorite go-to for a quick side-dish:

One medium daikon
One carrot
Olive Oil
Onion (preferably yellow)

If you buy organic daikon and carrots, there is no need to peel the skin. Just wash thoroughly. Slice up in 1/8-inch slices and set aside.  Chop up some shallots, and/or yellow onion. Toss into a fry pan, and add some water to cover. Put on low-to-medium heat until the shallots and onions start to cook down. Keep stirring with wooden spoon so that they don’t stick to the pan. At this point you can add a little taste of salt. Once the shallots and onions are sufficiently soft and starting to caramelize, throw in the daikon and carrots.  Add a teaspoon of oil and stir.  Lower the flame so nothing burns. You can cover the pan and let everything steam for a few moments until softer-than-raw, and turn off the heat.

Serve on the side along with some steamed broccoli. Alternatively, you can add the daikon and carrots either cooked or raw,  to thick, delicious lentil soup, or lentil vegetable soup which enhances the live enzymes and adds wonderful nutty/sweet flavor.  This is great comfort food for a cold day!

<< Click here for more information about the 5 Tastes! >>






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7 thoughts on “Pungent food list”

  • Talk about the taste of garlic. I love garlic bread! As a vegan, your vegan rice & vegetable sushi with the suggested dip will be interesting. I also never thought the pungent taste had this many health benefits. Thanks Amy for giving us a lot to experiment and make our food rather exciting.

  • Very interesting to read about ways I can create meals with a touch of sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent in an unconventional way. I’m definitely going to try using these ingredients soon!

  • Hi
    I absolutely love love LOVE your chart of the 5 tastes. My cooking has improved dramatically in the last fwe years, but every now and then I do a food pairing and I just have to ask my self “what were you thinking!” Usually that I am trying to be unique or creative. With this chart I can still be creative but with a little healthy direction.

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