Do Chua are the sweet, slightly sour, crunchy daikon and carrots pickles you find in Vietnamese restaurants. If you still don’t recognize the pickles from the pictures–do you remember the last time you had a Bánh mì?
I have been consuming these delicious tangy, sweet and sour pickles for almost two decades, always wanting more after finishing the small portion on my plate. Finally, I decided to make a batch and found out how fast and simple they are to prepare at home. Neri loves these pickles–one of his favorite daily snacks. Two 1 quart jars last about a month (for two people who really love pickles). I have now added these to my regular food prep schedule along with homemade granola, yogurt, hummus and salad dressings.
Added bonus– these are low-salt pickles and make a healthy low-calorie snack. Experimentation is “a-must” after your first batch! The pictures below may not contain the most traditional versions of these pickles, but they are delicious and maintain that trademark sweet, tangy-sour flavor and refreshing crunch.
Jar #1 is a traditional batch of Do Chua with a twist—garlic and dried chilies.
Jar # 2 uses the same pickling juice with the addition of green daikon seed pods. The pods are slightly spicier than daikon radishes but just as delicious. The pods are also great on salads—egg salad, mesclun, Asian-style salads…use your imagination. Where do you obtain these crunchy sharp bites of flavor? Farmers Markets or your own garden if you let a few radishes go to seed. Remember to collect the pods while they are still green—don’t eat the brown dried pods.
I have never seen green daikon seed pods sold anywhere outside the Farmers’ Market. If you know of another local source, please feel free to share in the comment section below.
Recipe for a packed 1 quart jar:
I have included a basic recipe for Do Chua. This is my own version after tinkering with several recipes on-line and in cookbooks. Try the first batch without any variations and then experiment to suit your own taste. This recipe is slightly sweet, so if you want really sweet pickles you may need to add an additional 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar.
[ Additional water or vinegar may also be needed to completely dissolve the extra sugar]
- 3 cups of julienned daikon and carrots—peel both vegetables and cut into 1/8 inch matchstick—use more carrots or daikon according to taste
- 1 tsp of salt–add 2 or 3 more if you want a saltier pickle–but not really necessary.
- 2 tsp sugar (plus 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar for the brine)
- 1 1/4 to 2 cups of vinegar–use more vinegar if increasing sugar (white distilled or rice vinegar—okay one type or to mix )
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
1. Peel carrots and daikon. Cut into long or short matchsticks—your choice. Place in a large bowl, add 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp of sugar. Mix salt and sugar into the vegetables with your hands, gently pressing the vegetables to force out excess water. Let the vegetables sit for 4 to 5 minutes and allow the sugar and salt to draw out excess water. When the vegetables soften so you can bend the matchstick to touch both ends together you are ready for the next step. Check both the carrots and daikon matchsticks.
2. Place the carrot/daikon mixture into a quart jar or similar container. It is okay to gently press down on the vegetables and wiggle the jar to make everything fit.
3. Brine: using the same bowl—pour in the vinegar, warm water and sugar. Mix until dissolved. A whisk is a good tool to use.
4. Ladle the brine into the jar, covering the vegetables. Marinate for at least 1 hour if you plan on eating them the same day. The pickles keep well for 3-6 weeks and the flavor will decline after the 3rd to 4th week.
Taste best if you let the pickles sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
STORAGE: You must store these pickles in the refrigerator. They are NOT shelf stable. Although the pickles are likely safe after 5 weeks, the flavor will decline and the vegetables will lose their crispness. Remember if in doubt, throw it out!
NOTE: The garlic/chili version should sit for at least 24-48 hours to allow the garlic and chili to imbue the pickles with their flavor.