Saturday, December 4

Salty, Crisp, Bitter: Six Vietnamese Pickles and Preserves by Jenny Lam | Vietnamese food and drink

II’m not going to lie, some of these require a bit of effort. But if you get satisfaction from growing your own veggies, trust me, it’s even more satisfying to try your own pickled and canned veggies!

When my parents were growing up, refrigeration didn’t exist, so Vietnamese people kept or pickled any product that wasn’t consumed in time so it wouldn’t go to waste. Now we do it for pleasure and not out of necessity.

Vegetable pickles are served alongside meat dishes to offer freshness and crunch. Vietnamese love rich and fatty dishes, and pairing them with savory sour pickles enhances the taste experience, but also balances the palette, so you can eat more.

Two waters

Canned mustard greens. Most commonly paired with pork belly

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

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

The longer you pickle vegetables, the more sour they will taste. They should be crisp, sour, and slightly bitter. To stop the pickling process, drain the liquid and refrigerate the mustard greens.

Homework 30 minutes
cook 5 minutes
Ferment 3-5 days
Maintains 3 months

1 bunch of mustard greens

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

Trim mustard greens from bruised, yellow, or damaged leaves and tips. Wash well and allow to dry and dry overnight.

To prepare the chopping liquid, put all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over low heat until the salt has dissolved. Turn off and 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 jar in a warm, sunny place for three to five days. Then refrigerate once opened, consume as you like. You can make it into a pickle based on the recipe below, or rinse and eat as is.

Mother’s Day

Preserved daikon

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

Homework 10 hours over the course of several days
Trademarks 1 kilogram
Maintains 1 year

2 kg Daikon
700g of salt

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

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

Place a layer of daikon on top of the salt, followed by another generous layer of salt. Repeat the process until you run out of salt. Make sure all the daikon touches the salt.

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

When you check it out, the daikon should feel 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 there is no more sunlight, soak the daikon in salt water overnight. Re-“bake in the sun” as above the next morning.

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

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

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

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

Dua chua

Daikon carrot pickle

Spring rolls with pickled carrot and daikon
Spring rolls with pickled carrot and daikon. Photography: Craig Kinder

This, along with Nuoc Mam Chua, has to be the biggest indicator that you are in a Vietnamese kitchen! I would almost bet that it would be present in 90% of Vietnamese households, at any time. It is best served to accompany meat dishes and is widely used in various salads to offer extra texture and flavor. We also use it as a garnish in certain dishes.

Homework 30 minutes
cook 10 minutes
It serves 30
Maintains 3 months

3 kg of vegetables, pickled or julienned
400 ml of vinegar
300g sugar
1 tablespoon of salt

Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Cook on the stove over low heat until all the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.

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

Family and friends

Bean sprouts and chives pickle

It is best to keep it fresh on the day of consumption, as 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 egg.

Preparation time 10 minutes
Time to cook 5 minutes
It serves 4

½ cup of vinegar
⅓ cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt
200g bean sprouts
Bunch of chives with garlic
, cut into 5cm lengths
Juice of 1 lemon

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

Pour over your veggies. Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and mix well.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Rainy season

Pickled mustard greens

Daikon and mustard.
Daikon and mustard. The Vietnamese use canned daikon as everything from a stir fry addition to a pickle. Photography: Craig Kinder

Accompany any dish of braised or caramelized meat.

Preparation time 10 minutes
It serves 5
Keep 1 week in fridge

500g canned mustard greens
2 bird’s eye chili peppers
, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 spoonfuls of sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

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

Chop the mustard greens into 2-3 cm pieces and mix them with the rest of the ingredients.

Ideally, let it marinate one day before consuming. They are stored in another jar and kept for a week in the fridge.

Mountain climbing

Pickled cucumber

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

Homework 1 hour
Rest 4 days
It serves 10
Keep 6 months in the fridge

1 kg of pickled cucumbers

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

To end
3 spoonfuls of sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
5 cloves of garlic
, thinly sliced
10 bird’s eye chili peppers
1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Mix the pickling liquid in a bowl large enough to hold all of your cucumbers comfortably. No cooking required with this, just make sure the salt dissolves for the most part.

Dip whole cucumbers under pickling liquid; nothing can stick to the surface. Pickle for four days in a cool, dry place.

The cover of Eat Like a Viet
Eat like a vietnam by Jenny Lam

Strain the cucumbers in a colander for half an hour, then cut them into small pieces. Mix well with the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Bottle in a glass jar and store in the fridge.

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