If you’ve had Vietnamese food, you’ve probably at some point caught a whiff of these pickles, or đồ chua. Đồ chua literally means “pickled stuff.” Like pickles in other cuisine, they pair well with salty and fatty foods. They’re great on bánh mì, bánh xèo, bún thịt nướng, bún chả, chả gìo, and the list goes on. Larger cuts are usually found next to cuts of meat, while finer shreds are put in nước chấm (dipping sauce).
I discovered that in Vietnam, đồ chua is mostly daikon simply because it is cheaper and carrots were added only for color. Here in the US the values are flipped so cost-conscious restaurants and shops will load up on the cheaper carrots. In fact, when my parents first emigrated to the US, most restaurants in California didn’t even use daikon. Today, most of the places I’ve been to do about a 50/50 mix of daikon and carrots. It’s what I grew up with and in this recipe, we’ll stick with that for familiarity. Before we get started, here’s a few notes on how to make đồ chua.
This recipe was specifically created to be slightly less pungent and less sweet compared to the stuff you will find at most Vietnamese shops. This is simply a matter of preference, and it will make your đồ chua last longer in the fridge before it expires. Following this recipe also creates đồ chua that’s ready to be added to nước chấm to taste–you won’t need to ring out or rinse the pickles beforehand.
If you’re in a rush and want to eat these within a few hours and don’t care to save extras for another day, adjust the solution for a higher vinegar to water ratio.
So peel and then shred your veggies to the size you want. Smaller matchstick cuts will get more sour than larger ones. Use a mandolin for more uniform cuts than what I did by hand.
Next, we want to sprinkle salt on the daikon and carrots and mix it thoroughly. This will help remove some of the odor, smell, and color. If you let it sit longer than 15 minutes, more salt will be absorbed. Rinse thoroughly and lightly squeeze in batches to remove excess moisture. Drain and dry.
Transfer into jars and top off with the vinegar solution.
Depending on the weather or where you store these jars, it should take about 2-3 days until its sour enough and ready to eat. Taste a piece every 12 or 24 hours to check on the progression of pickling.
- ½ lb daikon radish
- ½ lb carrots
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ c hot water to dissolve 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 c water
- 4 tablespoons distilled vinegar
- Cut carrots and daikon to desired size.
- Sprinkle salt and toss well. Soak for 15 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly and slightly squeeze to remove excess moisture. Dry & add to jars.
- Dissolve sugar in hot water, then combine with remaining vinegar and water.
- Add vinegar solution to jars to cover daikon & carrots. Seal, store at room temperature until pickled to your taste, checking every 12 or 24 hours.
- Refrigerate when ready, up to 3 weeks, or until too sour or veggies lose their crunch.