Salty, Crunchy, Sour: Six Vietnamese Pickles and Preserves by Jenny Lam | Vietnamese food and drink

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II’m not going to lie – some of them take a bit of effort. But if you get satisfaction from growing your own vegetables, trust me, it’s even more satisfying to taste your own pickled and preserved vegetables!

When my parents were growing up, refrigeration was non-existent, so the Vietnamese would preserve or decap any produce that was not consumed on time so that it was not wasted. Now we do it out of taste rather than necessity.

Vegetable marinades accompany meat dishes to provide freshness and crunch. Vietnamese love rich, fatty dishes, and pairing them with salty sour pickles enhances the taste experience but also balances the palette, so you can eat more.

Dua cai

Confit mustard leaves. Most often associated with pork belly

Daikon and mustard. The strong umami flavor of canned daikon makes it possible to prepare delicious broths with little effort. Photography: Craig Kinder

The fermentation process for these will not work if some of the greens are exposed above water. If there are stubborn floats, place any ceramic kitchen object on top of the greens to push them down – a plate or small cup, for example, depending on the size of the container used for the greens. pickled.

The longer you marinate the vegetables, the more acidic they taste. They should be crispy, tangy and slightly tangy. To stop the pickling process, drain the liquid and refrigerate the mustard greens.

Preperation 30 minutes
to cook 5 minutes
Ferment 3-5 days
Keep 3 months

1 bunch of mustard leaves

For the brine
200g salt
3 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar
1 bird’s eye pepper (optional)

Trim the mustard greens from any bruised, yellow, or damaged leaves and tips. Wash well and let wilt and dry overnight.

To prepare the picking liquid, place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the salt has dissolved. Turn off and let cool before pouring over the mustard greens.

Transfer the contents to a jar or container large enough to hold the mixture and make sure all the leaves are submerged in the water.

Leave the pot in a warm, sunny place for three to five days. Then refrigerate once opened, consume as you wish. You can turn it into a pickle according to the recipe below, or rinse and eat as is.

Cu cai trang muoi

Daikon candied

Once preserved, the Vietnamese do everything from turning it into a pickle to adding it to stir-fries. It delivers such a strong umami flavor and also makes delicious broths with very little effort.

Preperation 10 hours over several days
Makes 1 kg
Keep 1 year

2kg of daikon
700g of salt

Wash, scrub, and dry your daikon, leaving the skin and roots intact.

Place a layer of salt in a container or bucket that allows you to keep the daikon flat.

Layer daikon on top of the salt, followed by another generous layer of salt. Repeat the process until you run out of salt. Make sure each piece of daikon touches salt.

Cover the container with a lid and leave in a cool, dry place for 24 hours.

When you check it, the daikon should be hollow to the touch and submerged in its own brine. Leave the liquid in the container.

Place the daikon on a bamboo tray or cooling rack to dry in the sun for as many hours as possible per day.

When the sun is out, immerse the daikon in the brine water overnight. Switch back to “sun baking” as above the next morning.

Repeat this process for five to seven days, until the daikon turns a light brown color and has white chalk on the outside. Discard the brine water.

Find a jar large enough to hold all of the dehydrated daikon, crush it, and seal it for another week. The moisture trapped inside will rehydrate the daikon slightly and intensify its umami flavor.

The final product should be washed thoroughly before being used in other dishes.

Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place. A dark pantry is perfect.

Dua chua

Carrot daikon pickle

Spring rolls with marinated carrots and daikon
Spring rolls with marinated carrots and daikon. Photography: Craig Kinder

This, along with Nuoc Mam Chua, has to be the biggest indicator that you are into Vietnamese cuisine! I would almost bet it would be present in 90% of Vietnamese households at all times. It is best served as an accompaniment to meat dishes and widely used in various salads to provide additional texture and flavor. We also use it as a garnish on some dishes.

Preperation 30 minutes
to cook 10 minutes
Serves 30
Keep 3 months

3kg of vegetables, cut into marinade size or julienned
400 ml of vinegar
300g of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt

Combine the vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until all the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.

Pour over your vegetables and mix well. Let stand 10 minutes before transferring to airtight containers, such as decorative containers or mason jars. Since there is a lot of bulk in this recipe, I prefer large decorative containers, otherwise you will probably need five large mason jars. Make sure the vegetables are submerged in the liquid.

Gia and he muoi

Bean sprouts and chive pickle

It is best to prepare it fresh on the day of consumption, as the vegetables are not robust and will not stay crisp if left in the pickling liquid for too long. This is traditionally served with braised pork belly and eggs.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 5 minutes
Serves 4

½ cup of vinegar
â…“ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
200 g of bean sprouts
Bunch of chives with garlic
, cut into lengths of 5 cm
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and cook on the stove over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.

Pour over your vegetables. Squeeze lemon juice on top and mix well.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Dua cai muoi

Pickled mustard leaves

Daikon and mustard.
Daikon and mustard. Vietnamese use preserved daikon as everything from an addition in stir-fry to a pickle. Photography: Craig Kinder

It accompanies any braised or caramelized meat dish.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Serves 5
Keep 1 week in the fridge

500 g candied mustard leaves
2 bird’s eye chillies
, minced
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Take the candied mustard leaves and rinse them under cold water for two minutes. Squeeze out excess water and let dry in a colander for at least half an hour.

Cut your mustard leaves into pieces of 2-3 cm and mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Ideally leave to marinate for a day before consuming. They keep in another jar, and keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Dua leo muoi

Pickled cucumber

Weigh them with something heavy to keep the cucumbers under the pickling water. A plate or a brick will do the trick!

Preperation 1 hour
Rest 4 days
Serves ten
Keep 6 months in the fridge


1 kg of pickled cucumbers

For pickling liquid
200g salt
3 cups of water
2 cups of vinegar

To finish
3 tablespoons of sugar
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
5 cloves of garlic
, minced
10 bird’s eye chillies
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Mix the pickling liquid in a container large enough to comfortably hold all of your cucumbers. No cooking required with this one, just make sure the salt is mostly dissolved.

Submerge whole cucumbers under the pickling liquid – nothing can stick above the surface. Marinate for four days in a cool, dry place.

The cover of Eat Like a Viet
Jenny Lam eats like a viet

Drain the cucumbers in a colander for half an hour, then cut them into bite-sized pieces. Mix well with the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Bottle in a glass jar and store in the refrigerator.


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