Pickled daikon and carrots are light, sour, sweet, and crisp, making this dish the perfect flavor companion to heavier dishes like fried chicken or roast pork belly! It's a breeze to make, needing only 5 ingredients, and is a refreshing pick-me-up for the palate!
Daikon can go by a few different names.
Winter radish. White radish.
Chinese radish. Japanese radish. Korean radish.
In Cantonese, I know it as lo baak.
As you can deduce, it is a vegetable with Asian origins and is used widely in different Asian dishes.
When cooked, it lends a certain sweetness to soups or stirfries or curries.
When raw and pickled, its mildly sweet and spicy flavor combines wonderfully with the sour and sweet brine.
Preparing the Daikon and Carrot
Daikon is easy to identify...it looks similar to a parsnip, but is fatter and white. You can find them easily in the Asian produce section of your market, or in any Asian market. Then you'll need a carrot, and I use a small one as I prefer to have more daikon than carrot.
Peel each vegetable and julienne them or cut them into matchsticks. You can also use a peeler and make long thin strands.
Place all the daikon and carrot into a colander set over a dish or bowl and it's time for some chemistry magic!
Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the vegetables and start massaging it in with your hands. You will immediately notice that the vegetables start releasing a bunch of moisture, and that's thanks to the magic of the salt which is drawing the liquid out...a process called disgorging.
In this case, the liquid being drawn out of the daikon, specifically, is slightly bitter, so it's good to get that out before pickling.
The salt also softens the vegetable structure, making the stiff daikon and carrot matchsticks become soft and bendable!
Let the salt-coated vegetables sit for about 15 minutes and you will find that a bunch of liquid is now in the bowl underneath the colander!
Give the daikon and carrots a good rinse under cold running water and it is ready to be pickled!
Adding the Pickling Brine
Transfer the daikon and carrots to a jar or sealable container and pour in the pickling liquid. It may not seem as if there is enough liquid, but don't worry, there is!
Make sure to press down on the vegetables, making sure that they are submerged under the liquid so they can soak in that lovely sour and sweet flavor!
Seal the jar or container and let it sit in the fridge for at least 24 hours before trying it. Leaving it for a couple of extra days will let the flavors deepen and develop even more.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can I use different vegetables?
You can omit the carrot completely and simply have pickled daikon. Other vegetable options would be cucumbers or bell peppers. I have also seen recipes where they add a single chili pepper to the brine to add spice to the overall flavor.
Can I adjust the sweet vs the sour?
As long as you still have ⅔ cups total liquid, you can play with the amounts of each ingredient to achieve the amount of sweet vs. sour that you want. You can also scale up the amount of water slightly to make the overall flavor more mild.
You'll notice that I say the pickling brine is "sour and sweet", choosing to put sour before the sweet because there is not as much sugar in this recipe as many other pickled daikon recipes. Most recipes call for an equal parts sugar to vinegar, which I find too sweet.
That is the great thing about this recipe. You can adjust the brine flavors as you see fit and have a very custom pickled vegetable!
How do you store it?
Keep the pickled daikon and carrots in the fridge for at least 24 hours for the flavors to really get a chance to meld. The longer the vegetables sit in the brine, the stronger the flavor will be. It will keep for about 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator...if it lasts that long!
What do you serve it with?
I like to serve this alongside a savory meat dish to help balance out the heaviness. Some recipes of mine that pair well with the pickled daikon are Crispy Roast Pork Belly, Crispy Crunchy Cornflakes Chicken, or Korean Kalbi Short Ribs.
If you've ever wanted to try pickling, this is a super easy recipe to start with. I love how refreshing it is, the sour and sweet flavor combination, and the satisfying crunch. I also love how it just goes so well with savory meat dishes, cleansing the palate and giving some variety to the meal's flavors. It's a very simple dish that packs a punch.
Simple Pickled Daikon & Carrots
- ½ lb. daikon radish
- 1 small carrot
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a glass measuring cup large enough to hold 1 cup of liquid, add just-boiled water.
- Add sugar and salt to the hot water and stir to dissolve.
- Add rice vinegar and stir. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Daikon and Carrot:
- Peel daikon and carrot and julienne-cut them or cut into thin matchsticks.
- Place daikon and carrot in a colander set in a larger bowl or dish and sprinkle 1 teaspoon salt over the vegetables.
- Use your hand to massage the salt into the daikon and carrot. Let sit for 15 minutes.
- Massage the daikon and carrots again to squeeze out any extra liquid.
- Rinse the salt off the daikon mixture in the colander under cold running tap water.
- Place daikon and carrot mixture into a dish or jar and pour in pickling liquid.
- Press daikon mixture down so it is fully submerged in the pickling liquid.
- Seal the container or jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving.
- You can use all daikon and skip the carrot, if desired.
- Adjust the amount of vinegar and/or sugar in the pickling liquid, depending on how sour or sweet you like it to be.
- If using less or more vinegar, adjust the amount of water accordingly to keep the amount of pickling liquid at ⅔ cup.
- Add a chili pepper to the jar if you like a bit of spice to your pickled vegetables.
- Add julienned cucumber to the mixture for some color and variety.
- Excellent when served with fatty foods like fried chicken, roast pork belly, or any heavy meat dish.
- Pickled vegetables will last about 3-4 weeks in the refrigerator.
- This recipe was developed/adapted/inspired by other recipes including, but not limited to White On Rice Couple, My Korean Kitchen, What To Cook Today.