In the Kitchen with TLC: Do Chua and Spring Rolls

October 27, 2014

I immediately fell in love with the Durham Farmers' Market when I spotted one of my favorite, often overlooked vegetables, the pale, knobby daikon. This Asian radish, also known as Japanese horseradish, has a milder flavor than the more common red radishes while retaining a nice, crisp crunch perfect for many different applications.

(This Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons image is from the user Chris 73 and is freely available at // under the creative commons cc-by-sa 3.0 license.)

Pickling is global, time-tested tradition that goes beyond just preserving summer's bounty for the long winter. The pickling process alters the texture and taste of foods, resulting in an even broader spectrum of flavors that has contributed highly to the unique tastes associated with many cultures. Do chua, a traditional Vietnamese pickle condiment, is a mixture of daikon and carrot that adds a distinct sour flavor to many dishes, including the popular banh mi sandwich. Literally translated as “sour stuff,” making do chua is so simple that it won't put the chef in a sour mood.

While part of my most recent batch of do chua went on top of some banh mi sandwiches, it was also used to create some tasty spring rolls. Spring rolls make an easy veggie-centric afterschool or pre-dinner snack. You can fill them with almost anything – rice noodles, raw veggies cut into matchsticks, meats, faux meats, sprouts, and of course, pickles! Feel free to take the basic recipe below for Do Chua Spring Rolls and modify to fit your tastes.  Now that's a sweet dill!



Do Chua
Time: 15 minutes
Yield: ~1 lb.

3 tbsp. white sugar
2 tbsp. table salt
6 tbsp. rice or distilled vinegar
~4 cups warm water
½ lb. carrots, grated or cut into thin matchsticks
½ lb. daikon radish, grated or cut into thin matchsticks

1. Take a large jar (I use an old pasta sauce jar) and clean thoroughly with hot water. Add the sugar, salt, vinegar, and about 1 cup of the warm water to the jar. Cap the jar and shake to dissolve the sugar and salt.
2. Add the carrot and daikon to the jar. Cap the jar and shake to distribute the brine.
3. Fill the jar to the top with the remaining warm water, cap, shake, and refrigerate.
4. Pickles are ready in 1 hour, but they are better the next day! They will last about 1 week in the fridge.

Note: After a day or two, you may notice a pungent odor from your pickles. I assure you they are still good! Daikon, a cruciferous vegetable, is rich in smelly, sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. These and other various components in cruciferous vegetables have been linked to lower cancer risks, so eat up!

Do Chua Spring Rolls
Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 12 rolls

12 sheets of rice paper
Batch of Do Chua (recipe above)
1 cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks
Bean or pea sprouts

1. Fill a saute pan (big enough to fit a sheet of rice paper) with warm water.
2. Arrange in close proximity the saute pan, a cutting board, your fillings, and a tray for the completed rolls.
3. Take one sheet of rice paper and dip it into the warm water for about 15 seconds.
4. Remove when the rice paper sheet is pliable and place on the cutting board.
5. Place your fillings in the top third of the wrapper. Fold over the sides, roll it like a burrito and place it on the tray. Continue with remaining wrappers and fillings.
6. Make a tasty dipping sauce by combining in a jar and shaking: ½ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp. grated ginger, a minced garlic clove, 1 tsp. sesame oil and a dash of sugar.
7. Dip and enjoy!

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