I learned this little trick in a cooking class in Vietnam. It’s so simple to do and well worth the time invested (which is not much). It takes all of about 5 minutes to chop up the vegetables and put them into jars and another 2 minutes to mix the juice ingredients and put them in the fridge.
For the best results, you want to leave your pickling vegetables in the fridge for about 24 hours, giving them enough time to soften and absorb the flavors. However, they can be used within an hour or two if you need them and in my house, they are usually all but finished within 6 hours.
The most popular vegetables to do this way are Daikon Radishs, Carrots and Cucumber and these are the ones we are doing here today, however, don’t let that stop you from experimenting with other vegetables, some other commonly pickled veggies that are terrific for this process are:
- Cabbage (especially red cabbage)
or mix a few of them together, it is certainly going to will work out great.
Quick tip, the fastest way to get the vegetables shredded is with a Vietnamese shredding tool, but another way that is almost as fast and will save your hands from imminent shredding if you don’t have one is pealing the entirety of the vegetables and cutting lengthways with a knife. The images below; on the left, vegetables shredded with Vietnamese shredding tool and on the right, they are peeled and sliced lengthways.
Vegetables are always better slightly pickled. The texture is much softer/smoother and the flavors are much more intense. Additionally, it has the benefit of making them easier to digest.
- 2 carrots
- 1-2 cucumbers depending on the size
- 2 cups chopped daikon
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup white vinegar rice vinegar is a good substitute
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
Cut up all your vegetables as described and pictured above. (if you like there is no harm in making them thicker or thinner if you prefer it that way)
Using some water, just warm enough to dissolve the salt and sugar, combine all the pickling ingredients in a bowl and stir until dissolved.
Pour the mixture into sealable containers along with your sliced/shredded vegetables just enough so that they are completely submerged.
Place them in the fridge and leave overnight for the best flavor, but no harm in eating them after only a few hours.
The Pickling Benefits
Pickling is a form of fermentation, it’s important to understand what that is, so here is a very quick 101:
Put simply, fermentation is the process of adding salt and water to produce, which in turn kills off bad bacteria because they can’t survive in salty water. This allows the good bacteria to flourish and they eat the sugars in the vegetables and convert them to lactic acid. The world lactic acid has a bad wrap as it both sounds bad and refers to an acid that builds up in the muscles after a workout, but in food and your gut, its a VERY good thing.
Lactic acid is a preservative and preserves not only the texture and flavor of the food long term but also the nutrients. So fermenting things makes them last longer, taste better, improves the texture for some dishes like Bahn Mi for example and conveniently it can be used to rescue food in your fridge that are about to go bad.
In Your Gut:
Lactic acid helps you’re gut preserve it’s good bacteria resulting in better gut health. Have you heard the word Probiotic? Well, lactic acid is the most common type of probiotic. It is well known that probiotics a.k.a lactic acid assist digestion and even help the body to resist and fight infection. there are even some studies that suggest mental health and gut health are tied together, but I confirm or deny that.
* please be aware that though pickling food has health benefits, most of the products of supermarket shelves are FULL of salt, so much so that it not only defeats the purpose of pickling it may actually create its own health risks. This does not refer to all products, there are exceptions.