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The first time I went to Vietnam with Son, was a decade ago, and I was still terribly picky.
I hated cilantro, which was in EVERYTHING, and so I spent the majority of the trip trying to sneakily pick the cilantro out of my food.
I always have a finicky stomach, and the stress of traveling always makes it worse, so I was so incredibly grateful for his aunt and uncles’ housekeeper that trip.
When she noticed I ate a lot of watermelon, she’d make sure there was watermelon at every meal.
When she saw that there was a coconut pork dish that she made that I absolutely devoured, she would make it and place the dish right in front of me with a knowing smile, and even shared the recipe with me before we left.
The second time we went to Vietnam six years later I was past most of my picky tendencies and had learned to love cilantro, and pretty much stuffed my face the entire trip, but I’ll never forget the kindness of that woman who never judged me or shamed me, and just made sure I was fed.
Bánh mì and do chua are a must around here, and I make them often. You really can’t go wrong with any of Andrea Nguyen’s recipes!
Do Chua (Daikon and Carrot Pickles)
from The Bánh Mì Handbook, by Andrea Nguyen
- 1 medium daikon, about 1 lb
- 1 large carrot, about 6 oz
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp plus 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- Peel and cut the daikon into sticks abour 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick, the width of an average chopstick. Peel and cut the carrot to match the size of the daikon sticks but slightly skinnier. Put the vegetables in a bowl. Toss with the salt and 2 tsp of sugar. Massage and knead the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until you can bend a piece of daikon and the tips touch without breaking. They will have lost about a quarter of their original volume.
- Flush with running water, then drain in a mesh strainer or colander. Press or shake to expel excess water. Transfer to a 4-cup jar.
- For the brine, stir together the remainin 1/2 cup sugar with the vinegar and water until dissolved. Pour into the jar to cover well. Discard any excess brine. Use after 1 hour or refrigerate for up to a month.
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