Banh Mi Pickled Carrots
By Holly Howe
Yield: 1 quart (liter)
This recipe is inspired by Bánh Mì, a vibrant and delicious Vietnamese sandwich loaded with fresh carrots, daikon radish, jalapeño, and cilantro. These vegetables are usually quick pickled in a sweetened vinegar. We instead ferment the typical toppings to naturally create a vinegary tang, add the digestive power of probiotics, and enable you to simplify meal prep.
Use Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots to add texture, moisture, and tons of flavor to any dish. A Grilled Chicken Bánh Mì Sandwich, a Bánh Mì Burger with Sriracha Mayo, or Spring Rolls with Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots are just a few of the possibilities I share below.
Fermentation Length: 7 to 10 days
Salt Percentage: 2.0% (see Recipe Notes)
When purchasing daikon radish, look for ones no more than 2 inches in diameter because the smaller size tends to have a nice flavor and some wonderful sweetness. Really young daikon – less than 1-inch thick – can be tasteless, and older fat daikon radish can be hot and bitter.
Once you have a jar of Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots at the ready in your fridge, throwing together a flavorful, healthy meal is so much easier. It’s now pay-off time for the work you did weeks ago. A marriage of fermentation and batch processing.
Here are three ideas on how to use your Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots:
- Grilled Chicken Bánh MìSandwich. Toast a baguette, spread with mayonnaise, add some slices of grilled chicken breast, and top with Banh Mi Pickled Carrots.
- Bánh Mì Burger with Sriracha Mayo. Before grilling, mix dried onion flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper into ground hamburger meat. Make Sriracha Mayo by stirring 1–2 tablespoons sriracha into 1/4 cup of mayonnaise. Assemble. Slather your favorite hamburger bun with Srirach Mayo, add grilled hamburger, and top with a generous portion of Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots.
- Spring Rolls with Bánh MìPickled Carrots. For a vegan take on the traditional Bánh Mì sandwich, roll grilled tofu and Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots, and Sriracha Sauce, in rice paper. Dip in a vinegar sauce made with 1/2 cup of rice vinegar, cup water, 1-2 tablespoons sugar, sliced green onions, and a sprinkle of dried red pepper flakes.
Or, to keep life real simple, just add a few forkfuls of Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots to a bowl of lettuce–including a bit of the brine, sprinkle on a few nuts, add some bits of avocado, then drizzle on some olive oil. Easy! Mouthwatering delicious!
- 2–3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1–3 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
- 4–5 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- 1 lime, zest and juice of
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fish sauce (optional)
- 1 pound (450 g) approx. daikon, peeled and julienned
- 1 pound (450 g) approx. carrots, peeled and julienned
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) fine-grain iodine-free salt
- Kitchen scale, ideally digital
- 1-quart (1 L) wide-mouth canning jar or similar sized jar
- 4-ounce (125 ml) canning jar (jelly jar) or other fermentation weight
- Wide-mouth plastic storage cap, canning jar rim and lid, or airlock lid of your choosing
- Cutting board and chef’s knife
- Large mixing bowl
- Vegetable peeler and measuring spoons
- Grater box
- Place your bowl on the scale. Either zero out your scale or write down the tare (weight) of your bowl.
- Prep your garlic, jalapeño pepper, green onions, cilantro, and lime(zest and juice) and add them to your bowl.
- Grate the daikon and carrots. A nice touch is to julienne or spiralizer the carrots and daikon. Just be sure not to end up with too fine a cut. Add grated daikon and carrots to your bowl until the weight of all your ingredients is 1-3/4 pounds (28 oz or 800g).
- Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of salt. Mix thoroughly until salt is well dispersed.
- Pack into a 1-quart (liter) jar leaving 1-2 inches of headspace. Clean up any loose bits from around the rim and press the mixture down into your jar to remove any air pockets.
- Seal the jar using a fermentation weight and airlock lid of your choosing. If you don’t have a specialty weight, find a slightly smaller jar that will fit inside the neck of the jar you packed your ferment into. Fill it with water, cap it, and place it inside the jar. It will keep your ferment below the brine and safe from airborne molds and yeasts.
- Label your jar with the recipe name and the day you started fermenting. Place your jar in a small bowl to catch any brine that may overflow. Ferment away from direct sunlight for 7-10 days.
- Monitor daily, pressing down any bits that rise to the surface. Start tasting on day 7, stopping fermentation when the desired flavor and acidity is achieved. I keep the fermentation length short for this ferment because I find with the high percentage of sweet carrots, it’s easy for this ferment to switch to an alcohol ferment with notes of yeast.
- When fermented to your liking, clean up the jar, removing the fermentation weight and airlock lid. Add how long you fermented your Bánh Mì Pickled Carrotsto your label. Seal your jar with a regular lid and transfer to the fridge where your ferment will keep for 6-12 months.
- With hot peppers, the heat is in the seeds and the inner membrane. Vary the heat by how many jalapeños you use, how many seeds you leave in, and whether you remove the inner membrane. Wash your hands well after handling hot peppers.
- I avoided the use of fish sauce in my ferments for years. It wasn’t until researching ingredients for a batch of traditional kimchi, that I discovered what I had been missing. Fish sauce is rich in flavor-enhancing compounds that add complex notes to any dish. If the smell turns you off, hold your nose while pouring. The fishy odor is greatly diminished during the fermentation process leaving behind remarkable flavors.
- Red Boat is my preferred brand of fish sauce. When shopping for fish sauce, carefully read the label. The best quality of fish sauce will be made with just anchovies and salt.
- If you are comfortable with weighing your ingredients and calculating salt by weight, this recipe uses 2% salt. To determine how many grams of salt to add, multiply the weight of your ingredients by 0.02 and add that many grams of salt. For example, an 800 gram batch of ingredients would call for 16 grams of salt. (800 x 0.02 = 16)
- Himalayan pink salt or Redmond Real Salt© are my favorite salts to use for fermentation.
- If you want a bit of sweetness in your Bánh Mì Pickled Carrots, place the portion size you are about to use in a bowl and stir in some fine sugar.
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