February 22, 2010

Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle

Do Chua
Vietnamese Carrot and Daikon Pickle

Stumped by Tigress is a Jams carrot directive for her February Can Jam I poured over dozens of cookbooks, searching for that special recipe with which to impress my lofty canning pals. Carrots are not after all my favorite vegetable to can, or even eat for that matter. I tend like them best raw, shortly after they have been plucked from the earth garnished only with a dusting of fresh dirt.
After much procrastination I decided on Vietnams Do Chua, keeping with my recurring Asian pickle theme. Often scattered on bahn mi, Vietnams answer to the hoagie, carrot daikon pickles are a simple and delicious counterpoint to the sandwiches rich ingredients, pate, roast pork and yes, mayo. Don’t forget, Vietnam was long occupied by the French (hence the pate and mayo). Do Chua adds a complex flavor and crunch to almost anything. Serve alongside rich meats or in a Vietnamese lettuce taco, I like grilled shrimp or pork, with piles of fresh mint and cilantro. And of course tuck them into some crazy PO BOY of your own design.


  • Use a mandoline if you have one, do not grate.
  • Buy large carrots, they are easier to work with.
  • If you plan on using the pickles quickly, you can skip the hot water bath and make these as a refrigerator pickle. Let them sit up in the fridge for week before using. They should stay fresh for a month.
  • Daikon, once pickled can smell a bit cabagey, but  it is not reflected in the taste.
  • Adapted from the Ball Book of Canning



2 lbs. carrots peeled and julienned lengthwise in long strips
2 lbs daikon peeled and julienned lengthwise in long strips
3 cups white wine vinegar
3 cups water
1 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
6 chili pepper (optional)


  1. Start your hot water bath and prepare your jars and lids.
  2. Wash peel and julienne carrots and daikon into long strips.
  1. In large pan combine water, vinegar, sugar and ginger bring to a boil over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Add julienned daikon and carrots and immediately turn heat off. Place a  chili pepper in each jar (if using). Using tongs pack julienned vegetables into hot jars. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jars, pushing down on veggies with the back of a sterilized spoon leaving ½ inch of headroom. Remove air bubbles and adjust head-space adding more liquid if needed.   Wipe rims and place lids on screwing on lightly.
  1.  Place jars in canner covering with more hot water to submerge the jars. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes (timed from the boil). Remove lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars. Place jars on towels or a cutting board. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
  2. Label and Enjoy!

February 14, 2010

Kumquats in Honey Ginger Syrup

Originally I had planned on making this for Tigress in a Jams January Can-Jam but was unable to get my hands on any kumquats. But it seems that the fruit Gods are now complying and kumquats are everywhere, just in time for Chinese New Year. Ranch 99, the fabulous Asian supermarket on Sepulveda, has some and even better, my friend Marysa let me raid her tree (after feeding me a delicious dinner that her husband Chris had cooked).

Prized for their beautiful color, which represents gold, their leaves, which represent money, and their shape, which signifies unity and perfection, kumquat trees are often given as gifts during Chinese New Year. Frankly, after last year any signs of prosperity are welcome in my home.

At first I thought this might be a fussy Victorian style preserve that doesn't translate to our modern palate, but let me tell you these babies are addicting! You taste the delicious citrus syrup before you bite into the fruit, which explodes in your mouth with a combination of flavors and textures, both buttery and puckery, unlike anything else you have ever had. They are yummy and will both surprise you and inspire your cooking with their multiple uses.  They are equally welcome in both sweet and savory preparations and sublime when combined with dark chocolate.

Kumquats have a short growing season so grab them when you see them and get canning. This is a pantry ingredient from that can elevate your cooking from the ordinary to the special. However much you make you will wish you had made more!

Kung hay fat choi!  (wishing you prosperity!).



  • Spoon over pound cake or dark chocolate torte.
  • Use in salad dressings
  • Mix into to yoghurt or spoon on top of panna cotta (pictured).
  • Slice into salads or serve with roasted meats.
  • Make sophisticated cocktails using the fruit as a garnish and a bit of the syrup for flavor. 
  • Honey tends to foam a bit more than sugar, don't be bothered by it just skim it off
  • You can substitute sugar for the honey if you like.
  • Feel free to omit the ginger or replace it with vanilla bean.

  • 2 lbs kumquats
  • 11/2 cups honey
  • 11/2-cup sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2-inch knob of ginger 


1.   Wash the kumquats and remove any remaining stems. With a paring make a small incision in each end of the fruit.

2.   Peel ginger and slice into 8-10 coins.
3.   Put honey, sugar, water and ginger into a preserving pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Add kumquats and cook over low heat until fruit is tender and almost translucent, about and hour. Skim as needed.
4.   Cool fruit and refrigerate over night. Start you canner boiling. Return fruit and syrup to boil over medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes skimming as needed.
5.    Ladle fruit into canning jars dividing ginger evenly. Cover the kumquats with the syrup leaving 1/2-inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims and place lids on screwing on lightly.
6.   Place jars in canner covering with more hot water to submerge the jars. Bring to a boil and process for 20 minutes (timed from the boil). Remove lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars. Place jars on towels or a cutting board. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.
7.   Label date and enjoy!