Dua Hanh (Pickled Shallots)
During Vietnamese Lunar New Year, rosy, northern-style pickled shallots are a must-have on many menus. In fact, there is a traditional Tet couplet that includes dua hanh as one of the foods required for the holiday. The shallot’s delightful tanginess and mild bite cut the richness of traditional dishes like suon kho, banh chung sticky rice cakes and charcuterie. They’re also good any time in a salad or sandwich, on a cheese board or in a gin on the rocks. Peeling small shallots on your own can be tedious, so make the task a group project. Tet is about family bonding time too.
- Serves: 2 persons
- 10ounces small shallots (about 2 cups; see Note)
- Boiling water
- 2tablespoons fine sea salt
- ½cup granulated sugar
- 1cup distilled white vinegar
Step 1Put the shallots in a small heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes to loosen the skins. Pour out the hot water, then refill the bowl with cold water to quickly cool the shallots. Drain in a colander.
Step 2Using a paring knife, cut off a bit of the stem end of a shallot. Working from the stem end, peel away the outer skin and dry-looking layers underneath. Separate any twin bulbs to fully remove the skin. Finally, cut away the root end, taking care to leave enough so the shallot won’t fall apart. Repeat with the remaining shallots.
Step 3In the bowl that held the shallots, stir the salt into 1 cup warm water until dissolved. Return the peeled shallots to the bowl. Let stand at room temperature, loosely covered, at least overnight or up to 24 hours to remove some of their harshness.
Step 4Drain the shallots and rinse well under cold running water. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and vinegar and bring to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the shallots. When the liquid returns to a simmer, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shallots to a pint jar. Pour in the hot brine to the rim. Weigh down the shallots with a small dish if they bob up. Let cool completely, uncovered, then cap and refrigerate.
Step 5Allow the shallots to mature for 5 days before serving (halve bigger ones, if you like). They will keep refrigerated for several weeks, though they are likely to be long gone by then.