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FAST Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon (Do Chua for Banh Mi)

This recipe for daikon and carrots provides the authentic banh mi experience in order to get that crunch. This easy to make, slightly sweet pickled daikon radishes and carrots are a delicious treat, and not just for banh mi.

Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrots add a crunchy tang to banh mi sandwiches. These pickled daikon and carrots are versatile and can be eaten in salads, spring rolls, and even along side grilled meat/seafood dishes.

These julienned vegetables soaked in a mixture of vinegar and sugar water add the layer of tang, sweet and sour crunch and flavor to a variety of Vietnamese dishes, not just Vietnamese Banh Mi. 

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich ingredient in tray

This condiment is really easy to make, and you really don’t need to plan that far ahead to make it. Once made, you can use it right away or you can allow the flavors to deepen in the refrigerator a few days. You also don’t need any canning skills, just the ability to dissolve sugar, water and vinegar together.

Being able to make this condiment at home allows you to take any dish that needs to balance rich, heavy foods and offset it with a sweet, but tart flavor contrast.

All About Vietnamese Do Chua Pickled Carrots and Daikon for Banh Mi

Pickled carrots and daikon are a signature addition to the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. The bright brine of daikon and carrots julienned into small match sticks adds a splash of color to the deep flavors of the Vietnamese proteins layered into the sandwich, while the crunch adds depth and texture to provide an amazing array and explosion of flavors.

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich in jar

Where did Banh Mi pickled carrots and daikon radishes originate from?

Pickled daikon radishes and carrots originated in Vietnam, where the mixture often has a larger portion of daikon because it is less expensive. Gradually, carrots were generally added for inclusion of more color.

pickled daikon and carrots vietnamese banh mi

What are other names for pickled carrots and daikon used in Banh Mi?

The pickled carrots and daikon in Banh Mi is called Đồ Chua in Vietnamese. They are also often found translated as:

  • Pickled carrots and daikon
  • Pickled carrots and daikon radish
  • Fermented carrots and daikon
  • Do Chua for banh mi

Đồ Chua in Vietnamese means pickled stuff. While the name my imply a generalization of anything that can be pickled, the vegetables used in this recipe don’t ever change, it’s always carrots and daikon radishes.

What does daikon and carrot pickles taste like?

Do Chua, julienned Vietnamese pickled daikon radishes and carrots, have a tangy, sweet taste and topped over cuisine that is generally is more salty. While Do Chua aren’t sour and bold like dill pickles, they do have a tartness blended with a little bit of sweetness. 

Variations of Do Chua Recipe

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich in colander

You will find that there are a multitude of recipes with Do Chua with different levels of vinegar (or lime), sugar, and water ratios. Some families like it a little sweeter, some like it with a little more tartness. 

The recipe is super easy to make and requires you to prep the carrots and daikon, a quick 10-minute session to whisk up the brine, and time to allow the vegetables to pickle to the level of flavor you want. 

Everyone has a family recipe with a special and unique flavor. While no one recipe of carrots and daikon pickles are the same, each recipe is unique to those families because of the history and what it means for the individual family members who have made it over the generations.

Other Recipes to Use Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radishes (Outside of Banh Mi)

While Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrots are most commonly associated with Banh Mi, they are actually used in a variety of other dishes like Banh Xeo and grilled pork, eggs, and rice. Outside of Vietnamese dishes, this condiment is so versatile, that it can be used in hot dogs, barbecued pork, dry noodles, or in salads.

Asian Grocery Store List for Making Carrot and Daikon Condiment Layer for Banh Mi

Daikon Radishes

These are long, white mild radishes found in the fresh vegetable aisle of most Asian grocers. When choosing daikon radish, look for ones that are smooth, evenly shaped, firm and have unblemished skin that are about 2 inch in diameter as these will have both have a milder bite and a subtle layer of sweetness. Thicker daikon radish can be too bitter, and really young daikon that are an inch think generally have no flavor.

daikon at asian grocery store

Prepackaged Carrots and Daikon Pickles

At most Vietnamese-American Asian markets, Vietnamese daikon and carrot pickles can be found in small plastic bags and even jars all premade. If you didn’t want to make your own, you can certainly by them prepackaged. I would recommend making your own.

When used with banh mi, they are often cut into small matchstick sizes. You may have seen them at your local Japanese restaurant. Generally, they are not cooked but rather refridgerated to chill before serving in other dishes.

When cooked or pickled, daikon does have an earthy, some say poopy, smell. You didn’t do anything wrong, and the pickles should taste delicious. If you had pickles in a bowl of soup or in a sandwich, you probably wouldn’t smell it. And maybe after a while, you might grow to love the smell!

Tips for Making Banh Mi Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radishes

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich in bowl

Julienning and Cutting Pickled Carrots and Daikon

Most daikon and carrots found are shredded finely, but when it comes to home made, you can have fun and create just about any shape, size and thickness.

Generally, carrots and daikon made for Banh Mi are cut into small, 2-inch long uniform matchstick sizes. However, some people have julienned both vegetables to make it easier. I find that cutting them into matchstick sizes will provide that extra level of texture and crunch as opposed to super thin cuts.

You can also use a food processor to save time. You cut them into two inch long slices. Then use a food processor to do the rest (video here). You can also opt for using a mandolin.

Allow the Flavors to Deepen for a Day for More Tartness and Tang

The longer you allow the carrots and daikon to pickled, the more sour and flavorful they become. While you can quickly eat them after making them, if you really want all of the flavors, plan accordingly and pickle the carrots and daikon ahead of time before you start cooking.

Length of Time for Carrots and Daikon to Pickle

After making the carrots and daikon, you can generally eat them right away. However, I would recommend waiting at least an hour to get the taste that likens that of your favorite local Vietnamese restaurant. If you want a big of a tang and crunch, wait at least 24 hours before using them for added boost of flavor.

Level of Vinegar and Sugar to Use

For the recipe shared below, you can adjust it accordingly to the level of acidity and sweetness you prefer. If you prefer ta tangy-sweet flavor, you can alter the vinegar to sugar ratio to incorporate a sweeter brine.

Ratio of Carrots to Daikon to Use

If you like a more tart and bite to your pickles, you can use a higher ratio of daikon to carrot because daikon is tart radish.

In Vietnam, the ratio of daikon is generally bigger because daikon is less expensive there. In United States, you’ll find a larger ratio of carrots which are less expensive here and generally why you’ll see a lot of Vietnamese restaurants conscious over cost use carrots more.

Getting Rid of the Pungent Odor of Daikon and Carrot Pickles

The longer you brine the pickles in the refrigerator, the more pungent the odor, but the more flavorful and crispy the condiment gets. If you can’t stand the smell, allow the jar to be open for a couple of minutes before using them to allow the smell to dissipate.

What type of container should I use for pickled carrots and daikon?

Generally, a quart-sized mason jar can be used as long as it is sealable.

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich in jar

How to Make Vietnamese Banh Mi Picked Carrots and Daikon

Ingredients for Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon

  • ½ cup carrots, cut into 2-inch matchstick sized pieces
  • 1 cup daikon, cut into 2-inch matchstick sized pieces

First Rinse

  • ½ cup white vinegar

Second Rinse

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups of ice cubes

Brine

  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar

Instructions for Making Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Daikon

  1. Cut the daikon radish and carrots into 2 inch into small matchstick size pieces.
  2. Prepare for the first rinse. Find a bowl that will fit the daikon and radish with a little room to spare for soaking. Add the radish, carrots, and vinegar and fill up the bowl. Allow the carrots and daikon to soak in mixture for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse.
  4. Fill the same bowl up with white vinegar, sugar, and ice cubes. Add in the daikon and radish for 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse and allow the daikon and radish to air dry on paper towels. 
  6. In a small pot, mix together water, sugar, and vinegar. Let it come to a boil. Once at boiling, remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool.
  7. Add the dried carrot and daikon radish into a container or jar. Pour in the cooled mixture.
  8. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Store up to 30 days in a refrigerator. For immediate use, let the carrots and daikon marinade for about an hour. For a deeper flavor, allow the jar to sit overnight to allow the taste to get to the desired tartness.

Why do pickled daikon and carrots smell stinky and have a pungent odor?

A strong, pungent odor of pickled carrots and daikon does not mean that it has gone bad. Generally, the strong, earthy smell is due to the daikon when it is pickled. Before serving, open the lid and let the pickled carrots and daikon sit for 15 minutes to allow the strong smell to dissipate. Note that the longer you bine the mixture, the stronger the odor. However, the longer you allow the mixture to brine, the more flavorful and crispy they get as the flavors will deepen with a few days in the refrigerator.

What can I use for a substitute for daikon in making toppings for Banh Mi pickles?

If daikon is not available at your local supermarket try another type of radish, like red radish, watermelon radish, and purple top turnips. Any of these substitute can add a nice crunch and great flavor that is similar to that of daikon over Banh Mi.

Do you need to know how to do canning preparation in order to make Do Chua?

Canning knowledge is not recommended in order to make Vietnamese pickled daikon and carrots. There is no hot water canning needed like other pickles. This condiment can be made in less than half an hour and can store in the refrigerator for up to 30 days.

How long does Do Chua last in the refridgerator?

Daikon and carrots pickled using a Vietnamese brine can last up to 30 days refridgerated.

Can you reuse the brine when the carrots and daikon run out?

For the best tasting daikon and carrot pickles, you should make a new brine. It only takes 15 minutes to make a new brine. Brines generally last only 30 days, and this will ensure the freshness of the brine.

However, if the date of the brine is tracked separate from the addition of the carrots and daikon, then fresh vegetables can be added to the brine to save a few minutes.

Summary

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich

Whether it’s Banh Mi or any other dish, Vietnamese pickled carrots and daikon will level up any dish that needs a fresh, salty, and sweet crunch. This ubiquitous pickle pairs well with a wonderful, fresh baguette, spread with pate, and piled with savory rich meats like a brined pork and sliced Vietnamese ham rolls.

Daikon and carrots that are pickled are a staple for banh mi sandwiches, spring rolls, and other Vietnamese cuisines. Quick pickled carrots and daikon is not only a flavorful addition to any dish, but also a visually appealing ingredient stacked on top of already beautifully layered ingredients. 

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 pickled daikon and carrots vietnamese banh mi

pickled carrots and daikon on banh mi sandwich in jar

Pickled Carrots and Daikon Radish for Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Learn how to make a sweet-tart pickled condiment for topping an amazingly delicious Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.

Ingredients

First Rinse

  • ½ cup white vinegar

Second Rinse

  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 cups of ice cubes

Brine

  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of vinegar

Instructions

  1. Cut the daikon radish and carrots into 2 inch into small matchstick size pieces.
  2. Prepare for the first rinse. Find a bowl that will fit the daikon and radish with a little room to spare for soaking. Add the radish, carrots, and vinegar and fill up the bowl. Allow the carrots and daikon to soak in mixture for 5 minutes.
  3. Drain and rinse.
  4. Fill the same bowl up with white vinegar, sugar, and ice cubes. Add in the daikon and radish for 5 minutes.
  5. Rinse and allow the daikon and radish to air dry on paper towels. 
  6. In a small pot, mix together water, sugar, and vinegar. Let it come to a boil. Once at boiling, remove from heat. Allow mixture to cool.
  7. Add the dried carrot and daikon radish into a container or jar. Pour in the cooled mixture.
  8. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Store up to 30 days in a refrigerator. For immediate use, let the carrots and daikon marinade for about an hour. For a deeper flavor, allow the jar to sit overnight to allow the taste to get to the desired tartness.

Notes

This condiment lasts up to 30 days.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 38Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 9gProtein: 0g
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