When I eat something and don’t know how it’s made, I get easily intimidated and rarely try to make it on my own. That’s until I look at the recipe and see how incredibly easy it is to make. That’s what happened with do chua (literally meaning sour stuff), pickled carrots and daikon, often used as sides for com thit nuong (grilled pork rice plates) and banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches). I’ll admit that it does take the mystery out of the food, but I think it’s a good trade off for what you get in the end.
When I say it’s easy it’s not an exaggeration. All you need are the veggies, some sugar, some salt and some white vinegar. With all the Vietnamese food I’m cooking lately, it’s been a great excuse for me to buy new kitchen toys. This simple recipe was no exception. Growing up, do chua was always made with finely julienned veggies. I didn’t want to spend all my time cutting up carrots and daikon that would look uneven and ugly at the end, so I invested in a mandolin slicer. The one I got did the job…eventually. I had to cut the chunks of veggies pretty small to fit into the gripper that keeps me from slicing my hands. The daikon was julienned just fine because it was thicker, but the carrots I had were too thin and the slicer just wouldn’t grab onto it while it was in the gripper. I eventually ended up figuring out a way to do it without the gripper at the risk of losing my fingers, though.
The rest was pretty easy and I made a couple jars of the stuff. I gave one to my sister and in exchange she gave me some coconut juice and a Dr. Pepper. Fair trade, right? Anyway, it’s great to add to pretty much anything…a meat dish, a hot dog, an egg sandwich or some ramen. It’s sweet and salty and tangy…just the right combo of flavors for a little kick.
If you have a few minutes and some daikon laying around, you should try this recipe.