Salty, crunchy, sour: six Vietnamese pickles and preserves by Jenny Lam

一世’m not going to lie – some of these take a bit of effort. But if you get satisfaction from growing your own vegetables, believe me it’s even more satisfying to taste your own pickled and preserved vegetables!

When my parents were growing up, refrigeration was non-existent, so Vietnamese people would preserve or pickle any produce that wasn’t consumed in time so it wouldn’t go to waste. Now we do it out of taste as opposed to necessity.

Vegetable pickles are served alongside meat dishes to offer freshness and crunch. Vietnamese people love rich, fatty dishes, and pairing them with salty sour pickles heightens the flavour experience but also balances the palette, so you can eat more.

Preserved mustard greens. Most commonly paired with pork belly

The fermentation process for these will not work if any part of the greens are exposed above water. If there are stubborn floaters, place any ceramic kitchen object on top of the greens to push them down – a plate or small cup, 例如, depending on the size of the vessel used for the pickled greens.

The longer you pickle the greens for, the sourer they taste. They should be crispy, tart and slightly sour. To stop the pickling process, drain the liquid and refrigerate the mustard greens.

准备 30 分
厨师 5 分
Ferment 3 到 5 天
Keeps 3 月

1 bunch mustard greens

For the brine
200g salt
3 cups water
2 cups vinegar
1 bird’s eye chilli (optional)

Trim mustard greens of any bruised, yellow or damaged leaves and ends. Wash well and leave to wilt and dry overnight.

To prepare the picking liquid, put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook on low heat until the salt has dissolved. Turn off, and leave to cool before pouring over the mustard greens.

Transfer contents to a jar or container big enough to hold the mixture and ensure all the leaves are submerged in the water.

Leave the jar in a warm, sunny spot for three to five days. Then refrigerate once open, consume as desired. You can turn it into a pickle as per the recipe below, or rinse and eat the way it is.

Preserved daikon

Once preserved, Vietnamese people do everything from turning this into a pickle to adding it to stir-fries. It offers such a strong umami flavour, and also makes delicious broths with very little effort.

准备 10 hours over the course of several days
Makes 1公斤
Keeps 1 year

2kg daikon
700g salt

Wash, scrub and dry your daikon, leaving skin and roots intact.

Place a layer of salt into a container or bucket that enables you to keep the daikon flat.

Layer daikon on top of the salt, followed by another generous layer of salt. Repeat the process until you run out of salt. Ensure every bit of daikon is touching salt.

Cover the container with a lid and leave in a cool, dry place for 24 小时.

When you check it, the daikon should feel hollow to touch and be submerged in its own brine. Leave the liquid in the container.

Place the daikon on a bamboo tray or cooling rack to dry in the sun for as many hours as possible a day.

When there is no more sunlight, submerge the daikon into the brine water overnight. Return to “sun bake” as above the next morning.

Repeat this process between five and seven days, until the daikon turns a light brown colour and has a white chalk outside. Discard the brine water.

Find a jar big enough to hold all the dehydrated daikon, squish it in and seal it for another week. The moisture that is trapped inside will rehydrate the daikon slightly and intensify its umami flavour.

The final product should be washed thoroughly before being used in other dishes.

Store by keeping in an airtight jar in a cool, dry area. A dark pantry is perfect.

Carrot daikon pickle

这, alongside Nuoc Mam Chua, has got to be the biggest indicator you’re in a Vietnamese kitchen! I would almost bet that it would be present in 90% of Vietnamese homes, at any point of time. It is best served to accompany meat dishes and heavily used in various salads to offer up texture and extra flavour. We also use it as garnish on certain dishes.

准备 30 分
厨师 10 分
供应 30
Keeps 3 月

3kg vegetables, cut into pickling size or julienned
400ml vinegar
300g sugar
1 tbsp salt

Mix vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Cook on the stove on low heat until all the sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.

Pour over your vegetables and mix thoroughly. Leave to sit for 10 minutes before transferring into airtight containers, such as décor containers or mason jars. As there is a lot of volume in this recipe, I prefer large décor containers, otherwise you’ll probably need five large mason jars. Ensure the vegetables are submerged in the liquid.

Bean sprouts and chives pickle

This is best made fresh on the day of consumption, as the vegetables are not robust and will not stay crisp if left in the pickling liquid for too long. This is traditionally served with braised pork belly and egg.

Prep time 10 分
Cooking time 5 分
供应 4

½ cup vinegar
⅓ cup sugar
1 tbsp salt
200g bean sprouts
Bunch of garlic chives
, cut into 5cm lengths
Juice of 1 柠檬

Mix vinegar, sugar and salt in a saucepan and cook on the stove on low heat until all sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally.

Pour over your vegetables. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and mix thoroughly.

Leave to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Pickled mustard greens

This acts as an accompaniment to any braised or caramelised meat dish.

Prep time 10 分
供应 5
Keep 1 week in fridge

500g preserved mustard greens
2 bird’s eye chillies
, thinly sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp sugar
Juice of 1 柠檬

Take preserved mustard greens and rinse under cold water for two minutes. Squeeze excess water and leave to dry in a colander for at least half an hour.

Chop your mustard greens into 2-3cm pieces and mix with the remaining ingredients.

Ideally leave to marinade for a day before consuming. They be stored in another jar, and kept for a week in the fridge.

Pickled cucumber

Weigh these down with something heavy to keep the cucumbers under the pickling water. A plate or a brick will do the job!

准备 1 小时
Rest 4 天
供应 10
Keep 6 months in the fridge

1kg pickling cucumbers

For the pickling liquid
200g salt

3 cups water

2 cups vinegar

To finish
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp soy sauce
5 cloves garlic
, thinly sliced
10 bird’s eye chillies
1 tbsp lemon juice


Mix pickling liquid in a container large enough to hold all your cucumbers comfortably. No cooking required with this one, just ensure the salt is mostly dissolved.

Submerge whole cucumbers under the pickling liquid – nothing can be sticking above the surface. Pickle for four days in a cool, dry area.

Strain off the cucumbers in a colander for half an hour, then cut into bite-size pieces. Toss well with the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Bottle in a glass jar and store in the fridge.

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