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Pickled Daikon: Meat’s Perfect Pal

We got them radishes all day, son!

By guest blogger Katie Walsh

I spent some time in Houston with my dad On A Meat Mission, to learn about meat and how it’s cooked. Over the next several weeks we’ll be sharing recipes and tales from our meaty adventures.

Strangely enough, the first step on our meat program was pickling daikon. Dad has a small, raised-bed organic garden in back of the house that was overflowing with daikon radishes. (Thanks to gardening guru Jim Sherman for suggesting that we plant daikon this year!)

Inspired by the julienned pickled daikon served on Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, Dad had experimented with several recipes. The most successful were radishes cut into thin coins. He said he asked Kelly (my step-mom) to taste them and she proceeded to kill a whole jar in one sitting. They rock.

We’d planned on making a venison pâté, and thought that daikon pickles would taste great with it. Plus those babies were just dying to be harvested. First ya pull ‘em out. Grab down by the base, near the ground.

Now that's a dirty daikon.

Then ya wash ‘em off. We had a big bowl of water we dunked them into. Cut the tops off, give ‘em one more rinse and throw them in a clean bowl.

Now it’s time to put ‘em up.

There were two kinds of pickled daikon we wanted to make, both using a sprinkling of carrot for color and variety. The first is one we adapted from Tyler Florence, with a kind of a sweet-and-salty brine that uses turmeric to give the pickles a nice caramely color.

We also wanted to make a jar or two in the Do Chua style, which is the kind they serve in those Vietnamese sandwich shops we love so well. The main differences between the two are that the Do Chua brine isn’t as sweet and doesn’t use any coloring agent, so the pickles come out crystal clear. Do Chua-style pickles are also typically matchsticks rather than coins. Here’s how ours came out:

We used more carrot than our recipe calls for—yours won't be quite this carrotastic.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first, make the brine, so that the ingredients have time to dissolve and steep while you prepare your veggies. Scroll down for recipes.

These pickles are technically fridge pickles (made with a vinegar brine, refrigerated and ready within 24 hours), so you don’t have to go through all of the proper canning steps if you so choose. Since we wanted to give some of ours away to friends, we real-deal canned ‘em. If you’d like to do the same, you’ll also need to start sterilizing your jars and lids at this point and get a big pot of water boiling.

Next, chop or slice as desired. We used a julienne peeler for the Do Chua pickles and a mandolin to slice the rest into thin coins (about 1/8-inch).

Put them in a colander nested into a large bowl and salt generously. Toss. Allow them to weep for 1 hour, then discard the liquid and rinse well (we actually forgot to rinse, so ours were extra salty, but still not TOO salty. So no harm no foul if you skip this step).

Pack your veggies into jars, throwing a carrot slice in here and there for visual variety. Leave about a half inch of headspace so there’s plenty of room for the brine to seep in, but make sure to really pack the radish and carrot slices in there so they don’t float up to the top.

It helped me to look at the outside of the jar as I went and make sure there were no big gaps. Slide slices down the side of the jar to really fill that outer edge.

We did most of our pickles in small, 4-ounce jelly jars, which only took one layer of veggies to fill up. We added 5 whole peppercorns per 4 ounces (so these guys got 5 total).

We also did a few taller, 8-ounce jelly jars. For those, we packed in two layers of veggie slices, with 5 peppercorns sprinkled on top of each (so 10 total).

Next, you fill ‘em up with brine.

Then comes the canning fun. Little sister Ava so graciously helped me with this part, using the magnetic wand to pluck the hot, sterile lids out of the water. I screwed them on (just fingertip tight!) and lifted them into the pot of gently boiling water. She took this picture of me in action (pretty good for a 6-year-old, eh?).

...and I do mean action! I didn’t grab the jar quite right and you can see it starting to slip. Oops!

Let them process for 10 minutes, then carefully lift them out and onto a rag or dish towel to drip dry. You’ll hear that sweet little “pop!” when the lids are sealed.

All our pickles in a row (or two or three).

These pickles are ready to eat within 24 hours, but they definitely improve in flavor the longer they sit—I’d say about a week to really taste great. You can keep them in the fridge for several weeks (Florence’s recipe says 2, but I think it’s actually closer to a month).

You’ll probably have some brine left over. You can add it to salad dressings, hot sauces, etc. Dad used some to make a batch of his Sriracha-style fermented pepper sauce, and all I have to say about that is woo-doggy!!!

Recipe: Sweet-and-Salty Pickled Daikon

Inspired by Tyler Florence

Yield: About 88 ounces (or 11 8-ounce jars of pickles)

Cook time: About 3 hours

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups rice vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 pounds daikon radish, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch coins
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch coins
Whole peppercorns

Make the brine. Combine vinegar and water in a medium pot over medium and allow to heat until warm to the touch. Add sugar, salt, and turmeric and stir well to dissolve. Remove from heat.

For true canning, sterilize jars and lids by running through the dishwasher, boiling for 10 minutes or holding in a 275˚F oven for 20 minutes. Afterwards, handle with washed hands or a clean dish towel. Start a large pot of water (big enough to submerge your jars) boiling.

For fridge canning (which does not require sealing), it is still advisable to sterilize your jars and lids. Your pickles will last longer and be less susceptible to molding/turning this way.

Combine daikon and carrot slices in a colander nested into a large bowl and salt generously. Toss to coat, then allow to weep for 1 hour. Discard liquid and rinse veggies with cold water. Shake off excess water.

Pack daikon and carrot slices into jars, taking care to leave about 1/2 inch of headspace while firmly filling the bottom of the jar (if there’s too much wiggle room, the slices will float to the top when you add your brine. Not a deal-breaker, just kind of annoying and not as pretty). Add one slice of carrot for every few chunks of daikon slices, dispersing randomly for visual variety.

Sprinkle in about 5 whole peppercorns per 4 ounces of jar space. If you’re using a 4-ounce jelly jar, you’ll pack in one layer of veggie slices and 5 peppercorns. For an 8-ounce jar, pack in one layer of slices, add 5 peppercorns, then repeat for two total layers and 10 total peppercorns. Extrapolate as needed.

Pour brine into each jar, filling most of the way and leaving just about 1/4 inch of headspace. You will likely have some leftover brine (save it for later!).

For fridge canning, screw on lids and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating. Can keep for up to one month in the fridge (but good luck not eating them all before then!).

For true canning, twist lids on just fingertip tight (screwing just as much as you can with your fingers, without turning your wrist) and carefully lift into boiling water. Allow to process for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to drip dry on a rag or dish towel. Pickles are done canning when you hear the lids pop!

Properly canned pickles are shelf-stable indefinitely but can also be refrigerated. Non-refrigerated pickles will soften over time.

 

Recipe: Do Chua-Style Pickled Daikon

Inspired by Elise Bauer

Yield: 64 ounces (or 2 quarts)

Cook time: About 2 hours

Ingredients:
2 cups rice vinegar
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 pounds daikon radish, peeled and julienned
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and julienned

Make the brine. Combine vinegar and water in a medium pot over medium and allow to heat until warm to the touch. Add sugar and salt and stir well to dissolve. Remove from heat.

For true canning, sterilize jars and lids by running through the dishwasher, boiling for 10 minutes or holding in a 275˚F oven for 20 minutes. Afterwards, handle with washed hands or a clean dish towel. Start a large pot of water (big enough to submerge your jars) boiling.

For fridge canning (which does not require sealing), it is still advisable to sterilize your jars and lids. Your pickles will last longer and be less susceptible to molding/turning this way.

Combine julienned daikon and carrot in a colander nested into a large bowl and salt generously. Toss to coat, then allow to weep for 1 hour. Discard liquid and rinse veggies with cold water. Shake off excess water.

Pack veggies into 2 quart jars (or any variation thereof). Pour brine into each jar, filling most of the way and leaving just about 1/4 inch of headspace. You will likely have some leftover brine (save it for later!).

For fridge canning, screw on lids and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating. Can keep for up to one month in the fridge (but good luck not eating them all before then!).

For true canning, twist lids on just fingertip tight (screwing just as much as you can with your fingers, without turning your wrist) and carefully lift into boiling water. Allow to process for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to drip dry on a rag or dish towel. Pickles are done canning when you hear the lids pop!

Properly canned pickles are shelf-stable indefinitely but can also be refrigerated. Non-refrigerated pickles will soften over time.

2 comments to Pickled Daikon: Meat’s Perfect Pal

  • jim

    Katie -

    Well, speaking as a “garden guru” (a nickname I think your dad hung on me as a tribute to my often and loudly spoken opinions of Urban Harvest guru emeritis Bob “That Pontificting Yankee Asshole” Randall) that was a really fun post. Glad I played a role in it. Incidentally, that particular daikon is the new “Alpine” cultivar from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. It’s thicker and shorter than the other daikons I’ve grown over the years, which look more like a two-foot white carrot, but according to Johnny’s “Alpine” is closer to a traditional Korean daikon. Anyway, I’ve trialed “Alpine at two different gardens this winter and I think it’s a rock star. Just unbelievable production and ease of growing, even for a radish, despite some watering and new-soil problems (one at each garden) that caused limited production with pretty much everything else. Daikon pickles are a lot of fun, but my all-time favorite during radish season is scrubbed, chilled, sliced thin, hit with a little sea or seasoned salt… the best beer munchie ever! For a real treat, let a few radishes (either daikon or the purple “Amethyst” also shown) bolt (flower) and go to seed. You wind up with lots of these neat little seed pods that look kinda like a fuzzy little green chile with an incredible radish flavor. So far it is looking like ‘Amethyst’ is going to be a super seed-pod producer; it also gets larger (2-3″) without splitting or losing flavor than any “salad” radish I’ve tried.

  • robbwalsh

    Thanks for the awesome tips Jim!! I LOVE the raw radish chip beer snack idea. maybe a lil lime juice and chile like in Mexico. Mmmmm. I’m definitely planting the Alpines next season!

    -Katie

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