Everyone knows that a family recipe is a special one, with special nuances and flavors unique to ones family history and story. I never feel as if one family recipe is ever “better” than another. Each one is different and wonderful on it’s own merits because of what it has meant to those who made it over generations. And for those who grew up eating favorite family recipes, the flavors and comfort these dishes bring are priceless.
My Vietnamese recipes are always rooted in family tradition, reflective of where I was born and the birthplace of my ancestors. My Grandparents hailed from the Northern Viet-nam and escaped the Communist regime to Central Vietnam during the war. My family stories that were passed down from my elders who had survived the wars. Accompanied with each memory was a recipe that was a window to the past, a reflection of their lives back before I was even born.
I always consider my Mom to be the queen of Vietnamese pickles. When mom gives a gift of love to those she cares for, I can almost guarantee that it would be in the form of pickles. And of course, all made from the heart.
Her delicate touch and emphasis on fresh crunch in each jar of her pickles was passed down from my Maternal Grandmother. If you were to taste the pickles, you would know it’s brined in my family tradition and regional flair.
The pickles I grew up with weren’t too sweet and more on the salty side. My father grew up in Northern Vietnam, where the foods were more subtle, less fiery and sweet than their Southern counterparts. When Dad would see Mom pickle huge jars of vegetables for her nail shop ladies (most of which grew up cooking in the sweet South), he was always remind her to “not to add too much sugar”!
Over the years I’ve modified my family recipe and found a balance that fit my eating lifestyle the most. I do love the salty brine of pickles, but am appreciating more of the slightly sweet balance in my pickles. This recipe is a reflection of both flavors.
I always grew up eating is Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon radish and they’ve become a staple in my pantry. These pickles or (do chua) are most well known for making appearances in Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches. But I know them just as do chua and eat them with rice, noodles and spring rolls.
Chose your favorite dish and these wonderful Vietnamese carrots and daikon pickles will enhance any meal that needs that fresh, salty crunch. Thanks and lots of love to Mom, Grandma and preserved family recipes that make food and sharing so special. Are there any special family recipes or traditions you hold close?
Vietnamese Pickles with Carrot and Daikon Radish (Do Chua)
Yield: 1lb Pickles
Total Time: 30 min
Taste the brine before you finish the final pickles. If you like your pickles more sweet, add a few teaspoons of sugar. Personalizing these pickles to your taste will make them extra special. I've tasted Vietnamese pickles from friends, family, restaurants and they're all different. Some are sweeter, tangier or saltier. Make them the way you want!
- 1/2 lb. carrots- julienned or cut into thin match-like strips
- 1/2 lb. daikon radish, cut same as carrots
- 4 cups water, slightly warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/3- 1/2 cup cup distilled white vinegar or rice vinegar, (start with 1/3 cup and taste the mixture. If you like it more tangy/vinegary, add few more tablespoons of vinegar)
- In large pitcher or large bowl, mix water, vinegar, sugar and salt till everything is dissolved and combined well.
- Place carrots and daikon in a clean, sterile jar and fill vinegar till jar is full.
- Cover jars and set in the refrigerator to pickle for about 3 days. I like my pickles to sit for at least 3 days so that the carrots and daikon become more flavorful and sour. Pickles can last for about 3 weeks in the fridge.