As presented in the fish sauce twist post, a Vietnamese tip for fish sauce is to add in pickles to enhance the taste and provide interesting textures. One of the most eaten pickles is pickled carrot and green papaya. Have you ever tried the great versatile sexy green papaya? If you've watched the movie ''The scent of green papaya", you'd know what I'm talking about. It is so versatile because Vietnamese not only make pickles with it as a side dish, they also make it into salad, stew, soup, and even candied green papaya as a snack! Now isn't it one of the most sexy vegetables out there? Anyway back to the green papaya pickles, you’ll meet these pickles again and again when you try street food in Vietnam. There are at least 5 dishes that go well with these pickles. We will, of course, cover the dishes in next articles but for now, let’s discover how to make this sweet sour colorful side dish.
Sweet pickles? Yes, pickled carrot and green papaya should have a balance of flavors: you should find these pickles sweet, salty and sour.
For a 1,5 l glass jar you will need
- 200 g or 3 carrots
- 150 g green papaya (fresh green papaya or you can also use dried green papaya stripes that you can find in Asian stores)
- 250 ml of water
- 150 ml of white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar, in this case you use 200 ml as it’s less sour than white vinegar)
- 100 g sugar
- 1 tablespoon of salt
How to make pickled carrot and green papaya:
1. Sterilize your jar
2. Mix water, vinegar and sugar. This mixture is to become the base for your pickles. Boil it, take off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. If you use it when it’s hot, your vegetables will be cooked and won’t be as crunchy as they should be.
3. While you wait for the mixture to cool, let’s cut the carrots and green papaya into stripes of around 5 cm long (if you use dried green papaya stripes, soak them in water in advance for them to regain their original shape)
4. Sprinkle salt over your vegetable stripes and let the salt soak in for 15 minutes. Why do we do this? This step is meant to take the water out of your vegetables to make them crunchy and a little salty.
5. After 15 minutes, your carrot and green papaya stripes will produce water and shrink a bit in size, this is good for fermentation process, so take those stripes and squeeze out excess water.
6. When the mixture is cooled completely, we can assemble the pickles. Put the vegetable stripes that you massaged earlier into the sterilized jar, then pour in the mixture. The vegetables should be completely submerged in water. Close the jar tight and let it sit in room temperature for a couple of hours then move it into the fridge. Your labor is finish.
Note: The longer you let your jar sit in room temperature the more sour your vegetables get will get, so check the taste to see if it’s sour enough for you and move the jar to the fridge to slow down the fermentation process.
Your pickles will be good up to 4 weeks in the fridge.
Apparently pickling vegetables is a method of preserving food that is thousand years old. Every country, every culture has their own pickles. Vietnamese people love pickles, there are all sort of pickles that they eat as side dishes or snacks: pickled green veggies that goes well with fish and meat dishes, pickled garlic to eat with Pho, pickled carrot and green papaya to add in fish sauce, pickled tamarin fruit as a snack (children LOVE this snack), pickled bitter cucumber which surprisingly stops being bitter once pickled,… We’d have to write an essay about Vietnamese pickles if we go down that route.
Do you like pickles? We’d like to know your favorite pickles and how they fit into your cuisine. Next time we will cover a famous Vietnamese street food to eat with this carrot and green papaya pickles: bun bo xao (beef sautee noodle). So stay tuned!
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!