One of the most interesting experiences to have when embarking on your Vietnam travel is enjoying the native cuisine. Vietnamese food offers a diverse range of healthy vegetable dishes, especially pickled vegetables. Vietnamese pickled vegetables can be paired with many dishes, which improves their taste and reduces their greasiness.
1. Ingredients for Vietnamese pickled vegetables
Pickled vegetables, known as “đồ chua” in Vietnamese, play a pivotal role in balancing flavors and preventing dishes from becoming excessively dry or greasy. The diverse regions of Vietnam each have their unique spin on pickled ingredients, contributing to a vibrant array of side dishes made from Vietnamese vegetables.
For example, in Saigon, located in Southern Vietnam, the locals favor a refreshing aftertaste, leading to the pickling of radishes and carrots with mild vinegar, providing a crunchy and tangy accompaniment to meals. Meanwhile, in the bustling streets of Hanoi, cucumbers take center stage as the perfect zesty side dish among Northern Vietnamese food, enhancing the flavors of various culinary creations. Central Vietnamese food offers picked dishes using a variety of ingredients like papaya, kohlrabi, radish, and carrots.
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2. The 5 popular Vietnamese pickled vegetable recipes
If you are curious about how to make Vietnamese pickled vegetables, we’ve got you covered with these five common recipes for Vietnamese pickled vegetables.
2.1. Vietnamese pickled carrots and radishes
A popular variation of Vietnamese pickled vegetables is Vietnamese pickled carrots and radishes, which are popular in “com tam” – a popular rice dish. Here’s how to make crunchy pickled carrots and radishes:
Ingredients: carrots, radishes, vinegar, water, salt, sugar
- Peel and wash the carrots and radishes, then cut them in half. Use a specialized grater to create thin strips about 2 knuckles in length.
- Combine the grated vegetables in a bowl, adding 1 teaspoon of salt and 20 grams of sugar. Gently mix to ensure the seasoning is absorbed, allowing it to sit for 10 – 20 minutes until the veggies soften.
- After the seasoning, rinse them with clean water. In a separate container, mix 200 ml of vinegar, 200 ml of water, and 30 grams of sugar.
- Place the rinsed vegetables in a jar and pour in the mixture, ensuring they are fully covered.
- Let it rest for 20 minutes before sealing the jar. Allow the pickles to soak for 12 hours for the flavors to develop.
2.2. Vietnamese pickled cucumbers and carrots
Savor the zest of Vietnamese pickled vegetables with this delightful recipe for Vietnamese pickled carrots and cucumbers, a perfect accompaniment for your banh mi. Here’s how to create this mouth-watering pickle:
Ingredients: cucumbers, carrots, coriander, basil, chili, garlic, lemon, salt, sugar, fish sauce
- Slice the cucumbers and carrots into bite-sized pieces but not too thin to maintain the crunchiness of the vegetables.
- In a bowl, combine the cucumbers and carrots along with 1 teaspoon of salt. Thoroughly mix to let the seasoning absorb, allowing the vegetables to soften for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Drain and rinse the vegetables in clean water to prevent excessive saltiness.
- Finely chop the coriander, basil, chili, and garlic for added flavor.
- Prepare the sauce by blending 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of filtered water, and the juice from half a lemon until dissolved.
- In a bowl, combine the vegetables, herbs, chili, and garlic. Pour the freshly mixed lemon fish sauce over them, ensuring an even coat.
2.3. Vietnamese pickled carrots and papaya
If you are seeking a delightful addition to your everyday meal or a unique twist to your Asian pickled vegetable collection, consider Vietnamese style pickled carrots and papayas. Here’s a quick recipe for this sweet, sour, and irresistibly delicious salad.
Ingredients: green papaya, rice vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, chili
- Scrape the papaya to remove the sap. Wash, peel, and remove the roots from the carrots. Use a grater to shred the papaya and carrots into thin pieces.
- Combine the grated papaya and carrots with a pinch of salt and sugar. Squeeze, infuse the flavors for 30 minutes – 1 hour, then rinse and drain.
- Boil and cool a mixture of 200 ml of filtered water, 100 ml of vinegar, 50 grams of sugar, and a bit of salt. Thinly slice the chili and garlic to add a spicy flavor.
- Layer the papaya, carrots, chili, and garlic in a glass jar. Pour the cooled mixture over.
- Let it sit overnight for enhanced flavors. Your crunchy Vietnamese pickled carrots and papayas are ready to be enjoyed the next day.
2.4. Vietnamese pickled cabbage
For a delightful addition to your Vietnamese pickled vegetable recipe collection, consider pickled cabbage. This tangy and crunchy dish pairs wonderfully with com tam and a range of other culinary creations. Here’s how to prepare Vietnamese pickled vegetables with cabbage.
Ingredients: cabbage, coriander leaves, salt, sugar, water
- Start by washing the cabbage and slice it into long strips. Pick off the coriander leaves, wash them with water, and let them drain.
- Add a pinch of salt and sugar to the cabbage. Squeeze the mixture well to ensure the flavors are absorbed. After about 20 minutes, rinse them and squeeze out any excess water.
- Combine 500 ml of water, 1.5 tablespoons of salt, and 0.5 tablespoons of sugar. Stir the mixture well.
- Place the cabbage and coriander leaves in a jar. Pour the prepared saltwater mixture over the ingredients, ensuring they are fully submerged.
- Seal the jar and store it for approximately 8 hours before consuming. This savory dish is ready to complement your meals, adding a burst of flavors and a satisfying crunch.
2.5. Vietnamese pickled mustard greens
Delight your taste buds with homemade Vietnamese pickled mustard greens, a delightful addition to your pickled Vietnamese veggies collection. This crunchy, sweet, and sour treat is a perfect accompaniment to festive dishes like bánh chưng and bánh tét during the Tet Holiday. The Vietnamese pickled mustard greens recipe is as follows.
Ingredients: mustard greens, red shallots, scallions, salt, sugar, vinegar
- Separate the mustard greens, discarding any damaged leaves. Dry the greens for a day to slightly wither them.
- After drying, thoroughly wash the mustard greens and cut them into bite-sized pieces.
- Peel and clean the red shallots. Wash and chop the scallions into 5-cm segments.
- Dissolve 60 grams of salt, 20 grams of sugar, and 3 teaspoons of vinegar in 1 liter of water (heat the water to around 60°C, then let it cool). Arrange the mustard greens in a jar and pour the warm brine over them.
- Add the red shallots, scallions, and a few fresh chili peppers. Use a bamboo stick to press down on the greens to ensure they are fully submerged.
- Seal the jar tightly and let the greens ferment for about 2-3 days in a cool, airy place. When the mustard greens turn a vibrant yellow color, they are ready to be savored.
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3. Which dishes are Vietnamese pickled vegetables usually served with?
Vietnamese pickled vegetables are versatile accompaniments that elevate various dishes. Pickled vegetables made from carrots and papaya are commonly served with banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), enhancing their taste and providing a contrasting texture to the bread and fillings. They are also featured in gỏi cuốn (spring rolls). Additionally, Vietnamese pickled vegetables can be paired with deep-fried or grilled dishes, which can reduce the greasiness of the food and stimulate your taste buds.
Moreover, pickled cabbage is a staple in daily meals, serving not only as a side but also as a key ingredient in various traditional Vietnamese dishes. It complements dishes like rice, braised fish, and Vietnamese braised pork belly. It also complements soups and stews by adding a tangy depth. During the Tet Holiday, these pickles serve as a refreshing counterpoint to the festive dishes which are often rich in starch.
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4. Where to buy Vietnamese pickled vegetables to bring home?
In Vietnam, you can buy pickled vegetables in traditional Vietnamese markets across the country. Additionally, you can easily find Vietnamese pickled vegetables at grocery stores, making it convenient to take Vietnam’s cuisine back home with you.
Whether you find yourself strolling through the bustling streets of Hanoi, the cultural tapestry of Ho Chi Minh City, the picturesque beaches of Ha Long, Phu Quoc, Nha Trang, or the ancient town of Hoi An, you are likely to encounter local markets where you can purchase these delectable Vietnamese pickled vegetables as well as other delectable dishes.
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In conclusion, with their sweet, sour, and tangy flavors, Vietnamese pickled vegetables not only elevate numerous dishes but also encapsulate the essence of Vietnamese cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a side dish or an accompaniment to iconic Vietnamese delicacies like banh mi or com tam, these pickles are excellent.