I have always loved the balance of flavors in Vietnamese cuisine. The fresh, aromatic herbs, spicy and sweet sauces, and the briny carrot and daikon pickle shreds. Sometimes they come floating in dipping sauce and I hoard them, scooping them out to eat every last shred.
A few weeks ago, we finally crossed off an albatross-like task off our to-do list. We had to update my daughter’s passport. Both parents must be present at the post office with photos, forms and checks filled out just so. The wait is usually long, the service wildly inefficient and unfriendly and the whole experience aggravating.
Across the street from the post office is a huge Asian grocer. I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t complain ONE TIME about the passport process and would treat myself to an Asian ingredient shopping spree if I succeeded. While waiting in line at the post office, I looked up recipes for pickled carrots and daikon radish and then decided to plan my entire week’s menu around them.
The recipe is easy but shredding all the veggies can be time consuming. Luckily I had an eager sous chef who managed most of the work. Using a mandolin with a julienne blade is by far the easiest way to shred a pound or so of root vegetables. If you like long, slow, methodical processes, you can cut the matchsticks by hand.
While she was shredding, I prepared the pickling brine and cleaned the jars. These are refrigerator pickles that last 3-4 weeks. We decided not to go through a full canning process.
We doubled the below recipe and I am glad we did because I LOVED having them in the fridge and we easily finished a small jar in one day. How do you use Vietnamese carrot and daikon pickles? You can add them to any salad. I especially loved it on a napa cabbage salad with ginger dressing. We made spring rolls and included them inside with rice noodles, tofu, thai basil, mint and cilantro. And, we topped Korean bbq chicken lettuce wraps with kimchi and the Vietnamese carrot daikon pickles. I love them so much, I could eat a bowl of them plain as a snack!
Daikon radish may be found at mass grocery stores. Look in the Asian section near mushrooms or tofu. It is a mild flavored radish that is native to Southeast Asia. The long shape and firm texture makes it easy to julienne with carrots.
Vietnamese Pickled Carrot and Daikon Radish
Makes 1 lb. of pickles.
1/2 pound carrots cut into thin matchsticks
1/2 pound daikon radish cut into thin matchsticks
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pickling salt
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar or rice vinegar
In a sauce pan, heat the water until not quite boiling. Stir in sugar and salt and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat. Add vinegar and combine.
Fill sterilized jars with shredded vegetables. When the pickling liquid has cooled, fill each jar with liquid and close. Put in refrigerator, ideally for a few days before eating. They last in the refrigerator for about a month.