Vietnamese Pickles (Do Chua)
Ribbons of daikon radish and carrots pickled in a tangy and subtly sweet brine. Vietnamese pickles may be found in rice, noodles, sandwiches, or broths for dipping. It may be thrown together very quickly and made in large batches.
Why This Works
In many cuisines, pickles are an essential part of every meal. Pickling is a technique that preserves perishable food for extended periods of time. Pickles are also a brilliant way of adding texture and flavor to dishes.
What are Vietnamese pickles?
Pickled carrots and daikon were historically invented as an economical substitute for French cornichons, pickled miniature cucumbers, which used to be a luxury product. Do Chua is kind of a non-recipe. Once you make it enough, it’s a relatively easy recipe to eyeball and adjust to your liking. I personally prefer a higher composition of daikon than carrots.
The Vietnamese also use other varieties of pickled vegetables such as beets, garlic, mango, green papaya, and cabbage. Vietnamese pickles are versatile. They are used in rice, noodles, sandwiches, or broths for dipping.
How are Vietnamese pickles made?
Depending on the region, raw vegetables may be either shaved or julienned. The thinner the vegetable, the faster it pickles. The most efficient way to prep vegetables for pickling is to use a julienne vegetable peeler. Invest in a quality one to prevent injuries! The pickling juice may be reused up to 3x before discarding.
What is daikon?
Daikon is a root vegetable that is also known as winter radish. It is in the radish family and resembles a jumbo white carrot. Daikon may be served raw or cooked. They have a less peppery flavor compared to red radishes.
How to choose daikon?
Daikons generally grow in a long oblong shape but may vary in appearance. Opt for daikon that is very firm and smooth. The easiest daikons to peel are thick and straight.
What is fish sauce?
Fish sauce (nuoc mam) is a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine and is known for its dark brown, clear appearance. This fermented liquid seasoning is made from fish and is characterized by its strong, pungent aroma. It has a distinct taste that is a blend of sweet, salty, and slightly briny flavors.
How do I buy fish sauce (nuoc mam)?
With many different brands available, it can be overwhelming to choose the right nuoc mam. However, my Southeast Asian grandmother prefers the Three Crabs Brand pictured below which is reputable. Please note that there may be brands that have very similar names that are of poorer quality. If a reputable brand that you recognize is unavailable to you, consider the following:
- Read the ingredients: Look for a high percentage of anchovy extract and salt, as this is an indication of high quality. Some lower-quality fish sauces contain added sugars, preservatives, and artificial flavors.
- Consider the color: Fish sauce should be amber-brown in color and relatively clear. If the sauce is very dark, it may indicate over-processing or the addition of caramel color.
- Choose a reputable brand: Look for well-established brands with a proven track record of producing high-quality fish sauce. You can also ask for recommendations from friends or family who have used fish sauce before.
How is fish sauce used?
In cooking, fish sauce is used to add saltiness and a rich umami flavor to dishes. It is commonly used as a seasoning in pho broth, as a dipping sauce in Vietnam, in marinades and sauces for Thai cuisine, and to enhance the flavor of various dishes.
Vietnamese Pickles (Do Chua)
- 1 lb carrots peeled, shredded
- 1 large daikon peeled, shredded
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- Prep | Using a brush or your bare hands, vigorously scrub the vegetables until running water until the visible dirt is rinsed off. Set one vegetable at a time on a cutting board and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Discard all of the scraps. Using a vegetable shredder, shred the veggies. Place the julienned vegetables in a bowl.
- Slaw | Add in the vinegar, sugar, and sea salt. Using tongs mix well. Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving!