Really, whoever came up with the phrase “Easy as pie” should be beaten with a lightly floured rolling pin. Whipping up a flaky yet sturdy crust under less-than-laboratory conditions is practically a lost art, like building the Pyramids with hand tools, or voting.
Not these lovelies. Your daikon-carrot pickles are a simple Vietnamese accent, tangy-sweet and crunchy. They take about 20-30 minutes to make, unless you’re hopeless with a knife. If that’s so, just stick to your Vlasic Kosher Dills, and count your blessings on your remaining fingers.
Daikon radish and carrot are a tasty combination, and they’re pretty to boot. These are the snappish veg slivers you find in a banh mi, the fine Vietnamese submarine sandwich that you can find no closer than Toronto.
But they’re good with grilled meats, or even in a salad. They keep in the fridge for a month or more, so there’s no panicking to use them up. (Though I will say that jarred daikon does tend to give off a medium reek after a while – they’re not rotten, it’s just their nature.)
Here’s the recipe from Andrea Nguyen’s indispensable Vietnamese cookbook, without which I would be hopeless and hungry.
Everyday daikon and carrot pickle
From Andrea Nguyen’s “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen”
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 pound daikon, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
1 cup lukewarm water
Place the matchsticked carrot and daikon in a bowl. (Don’t worry if you cut them a little bigger than matchsticks. Look at my ungainly root hunks - they turned out just fine.) Sprinkle with salt and 2 teaspoons sugar, and knead the vegetables firmly for 3 to 5 minutes, squeezing out water. They’ll soften and liquid will pool in the bowl. When you’re done, you can fold a piece of daikon and it won’t snap. The vegetables will lose about a quarter of their volume. Drain.
Combine the remaining sugar, water and vinegar in a bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Pour over vegetables. Do not eat for at least one hour. Keeps up to a month in the fridge.