If you’ve had Vietnamese food, you’ve probably at some point caught a whiff of these pungent Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon. These are what you find inside Vietnamese bánh mì but also served on the side for various other recipes too.
Sometimes you’ll see it extremely heavy on the carrots with almost no daikon, but I like it with the reverse ratio. You can do what you like best, but I’ll show you how easy and quick it is to make this recipe!
Đồ chua literally means “pickled stuff.” Weird right? It makes no sense to me to have such a generalized name because the vegetables in it don’t change–it’s always carrots and daikon.
But anyways, like pickles in other cuisine, they go well with salty or fatty foods. It’s great on Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì), savory crepes (bánh xèo), grilled pork and noodles (bún thịt nướng), egg rolls (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).
Daikon vs. carrot ratios
I learned that in Vietnam, đồ chua is mostly daikon simply because it is cheaper and carrots were added mainly for color. Here in the US the costs of these veggies 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 use daikon at all. Some people like it better this way, and some have only ever seen it this way because of the specific bánh mì shops they visit.
Today, most restaurants I visit use 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.
Customizing this pickle recipe
This recipe was originally customized by my Mom to be slightly less pungent and less sweet compared to the recipe you will find at most Vietnamese shops. This less vinegary formula 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 an even 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 slicer for more uniform cuts. A good mandolin like the one I linked is extremely sharp.
My aunt admitted she gave up and donated her mandolin cutter after trying it out, but she did it bare-handed. I have since heard many other counts from people I know, to TV chefs having this same fate.
Yes this mandolins can be super dangerous, but so are kitchen knives and cholesterol intake if you don’t handle them properly. I always use a (magical) cut-resistant glove so you can cut all the veggies down to the little bits and reduce waste.
If you’re still concerned about cutting the little bits on the mandolin, simply only use it down to a size you’re comfortable with, then finish cutting the small bits with a normal chefs knife.
Salting for moisture removal
Next, we want to sprinkle salt on the daikon and carrots and mix it thoroughly. This removes some of the odor, and color. If you let it sit longer than 15 minutes, more salt will be absorbed. This is the same process we do for Japanese cucumber salad and Chinese cucumber salad!
Note how the carrots and daikon lose their rigid shape, get a little softer and wobblier after the salt gets to work on them. They release water too. Rinse thoroughly and lightly squeeze in batches to remove excess moisture. If you grab smaller amounts in your hand at a time, it will take a bit longer but it will be easier to remove more moisture with each squeeze.
Transfer into jars. You don’t need to leave a ton of headroom at the top, so just feel free to load it up or split amongst smaller jars to gift to family and friends.
Then, top off with the vinegar solution so that it covers all the veggies. If you’re a bit short on liquid, you can simply add filtered water to top off the jars.
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.
When it’s really warm outside it can finish days sooner. If it’s really cold outside it may take a very long time–you can speed things up by turning on the light bulb in your oven and setting the jars near them. Just rotate the jars so each get a simliar amount of exposure.
What do you eat with Đồ Chua?
Literally everything. Đồ chua is great on Vietnamese sandwiches (bánh mì), savory crepes (bánh xèo), grilled pork and noodles (bún thịt nướng), egg rolls (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).
How long do pickled carrots last?
Pickled carrots can last up to five months in the refrigerator, but as long as they haven’t become too sour its ok to eat.
Are pickled vegetables good for you?
Pickled vegetables, like đồ chua, have a lot of healthy benefits due to the fermentation brine that creates good bacteria for your gut and overall body.
Vietnamese Daikon & Carrot Pickles Recipe (Đồ Chua)
- 1/2 lb (226.8 g) daikon radish
- 1/2 lb (226.8 g) carrots
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 c boiling water
- 5 tbsp granulated white sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4 tbsp distilled vinegar
- Peel daikon and radishes, then cut with mandolin slicer medium to small matchsticks. Smaller cuts will pickle faster.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle with salt evenly and toss to coat. Soak for 15 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly to remove the salt and in small handfulls, squeeze to remove as much moister as you can.
- Add to jars, filling almost to the top.
- Boil water then add sugar, mix to dissolve, then add vinegar.
- Add the liquid to jars to fully submerge daikon & carrots. Add extra water if needed to cover the veggies.
- Screw on the lids, store at room temperature until pickled to your taste, checking every 12 or 24 hours. It usually takes 2-5 days depending on the temperature.
- Refrigerate when ready, for up to 3 weeks, or until too sour or veggies lose their crunch.