These lightly pickled carrots and daikon are a common Vietnamese salad. It is sometimes served as a small side salad to brighten dishes and can be used in banh mi or Vietnamese salad rolls.
The daikon and carrots for this salad should be shredded so that they are about as thick as bean sprouts, i.e. they should be no thinner than 1/16 inches, and preferably be around 3/32 inches thick. They should have some crunch to them and be thick enough to stay mostly straight and only have a slight droop if you hold one up by its end. They should be thicker than vermicelli noodles; if you shred them too finely then they will tangle, have an unappealing hair-like texture, and not be crunchy.
You don’t need to use your good vinegar for this. It is okay to substitute the rice vinegar for white vinegar or even apple cider vinegar.
Source: Adapted from “Dau Chua (Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad)” from “Hot Sour Salty Sweet: A Culinary Journey Through Southeast Asia” by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. Also used “Pickled Carrots” from “Vietnamese Home Cooking” by Charles Phan as a reference.
Dau Chua (Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickled Salad)
- 1/2 pound carrots *
- 1/2 pound daikon
- 1/2 tsp Diamond crystal kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- Japanese mandoline or Julienne Peeler for julienning vegetables. (Safety warning: It is very easy to cut yourself with a Japanese mandoline, especially if you are julienning vegetables even if you are using the safety guard. I prefer using my Kuhn Rikon Julienne Peeler since I think it is safer. It is a handheld peeler similar to a vegetable peeler. To use it, I used a fork to stab the top of the vegetable, and slide the tool down the vegetable.)
In a non-reactive saucepan, mix the water, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Cut the tip off each carrot on a long diagonal, so that it has a long surface area that you can grate long strips from. Use a Japanese mandolin with a medium sized grater attachment or a julienne peeler to shred the carrots into strips about the width of bean sprouts. (Be very careful of your fingers since it is easy to cut yourself.) Repeat with the daikon radish. Since daikon radishes are often large, you might only want to grate a portion of it. You should have approximately two cups of vegetables.
Place the grated vegetables in a strainer and toss with the salt. Leave the strainer in the sink or place it over a bowl, and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes. This allows some of the water to be extracted from the vegetables. Rinse the vegetables briefly in cold water to remove the salt; lightly squeeze them (but don’t squeeze too hard since you will bruise the vegetables) to extract a bit more water.
Mix the room temperature vinegar mixture with the vegetables. Let stand 1 hour before serving.
To serve, lift the vegetables out of the vinegar bath with chopsticks or a slotted spoon. Let drain, and mound attractively on a plate.
Keeps for about 1 week, if refrigerated and stored submerged in the vinegar liquid.
* Just carrots or just daikon can be used instead of a mix of both of them.