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A Taste of Asia: Discovering the Tangy Pleasures of Chinese Pickled Turnip

If you're looking for a new way to add some tangy, crunchy flavour to your meals, you might want to give Chinese pickled turnip a try. This traditional Chinese dish is made with thinly sliced turnips that are pickled in vinegar, sugar, and salt. The result is a deliciously tangy and slightly sweet pickle that can be used as a condiment, ingredient, or snack.

A hand reaches for a mason jar filled with pickled turnips, surrounded by various spices and ingredients on a kitchen counter

Understanding Chinese pickled turnip starts with the essential ingredients. You'll need turnips, vinegar, sugar, and salt, as well as some optional flavourings like ginger, garlic, and chilli. The pickling process involves slicing the turnips thinly, salting them to draw out the moisture, then rinsing and squeezing them dry. The turnips are then packed into jars with the vinegar, sugar, and any flavourings, and left to pickle for at least a day or two. The longer the turnips pickle, the more flavourful they become.

If you're curious about making your own Chinese pickled turnip, keep reading for a step-by-step guide to the pickling process, as well as some serving suggestions and storage tips.

Understanding Chinese Pickled Turnip

A glass jar filled with thinly sliced turnip pieces soaking in a brine of vinegar, salt, and sugar. The turnips are a pale yellow color and the liquid is slightly cloudy

If you're looking for a healthy snack or a unique addition to your meal, Chinese pickled turnip might be just what you need. This tangy, crunchy vegetable is a staple in Chinese cuisine and can be enjoyed on its own or added to salads, sandwiches, and stir-fries. In this section, we'll explore the cultural significance and nutritional benefits of Chinese pickled turnip.

Cultural Significance

Pickling is a traditional method of preserving food in many cultures, and Chinese pickled turnip is no exception. It is a popular snack and condiment in China, and is often served alongside other pickled vegetables and meats. Pickling turnips is a way to make them last longer and add flavour to dishes.

Nutritional Information

Chinese pickled turnip is a healthy snack that is low in calories and high in fiber. Turnips are a cruciferous vegetable, which means they are part of the same family as broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. They are rich in vitamin C and vitamin A, which are important for maintaining a healthy immune system and good vision.

Moreover, pickled turnips are a source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that promote gut health. Probiotics have been linked to a range of health benefits, including improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and enhanced immune function.

Nutrient Amount per 100g
Calories 28
Fiber 1.8g
Vitamin C 21% of the Daily Value
Vitamin A 2% of the Daily Value

In conclusion, Chinese pickled turnip is a healthy and delicious snack that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and probiotics, and can be enjoyed on its own or added to a variety of dishes.

Essential Ingredients

A bowl of thinly sliced turnips, submerged in a mixture of rice vinegar, salt, and sugar. A small dish of red chili flakes sits nearby

When it comes to making Chinese pickled turnips, there are a few essential ingredients that you will need to have on hand. Here are some of the most important ingredients and what you need to know about them:

Choosing the Right Turnip

The most important ingredient in this recipe is, of course, the turnip. In Chinese cuisine, turnips are often referred to as "white carrots" or "daikon". When selecting your turnip, look for one that is firm, with smooth skin and no blemishes. The size of the turnip will depend on your recipe, but a medium-sized one should be sufficient for most recipes.

Salt and Its Role

Salt is an essential ingredient in pickling, as it helps to draw out the moisture from the turnip and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. You can use any type of salt for this recipe, but kosher salt is often preferred because it has no additives. You will need to use enough salt to completely cover the turnip, usually around 2 tablespoons per pound.

Vinegar Varieties

Vinegar is another key ingredient in pickling, as it gives the turnip its tangy flavour. You can use any type of vinegar for this recipe, but white vinegar is the most commonly used. Apple cider vinegar is also a popular choice, as it adds a slightly sweet flavour to the pickles. You will need to use enough vinegar to completely cover the turnip, usually around 2 cups per pound.

Spices and Seasoning

To give your pickled turnips a flavourful kick, you can add a variety of spices and seasoning to the recipe. Garlic and ginger are popular choices, as they add a pungent flavour to the pickles. Bay leaf is another common spice used in pickling, as it adds a subtle earthy flavour. You can also experiment with other spices such as chilli flakes, Szechuan peppercorn, and cinnamon to create your own unique flavour profile.

The key to making delicious pickled turnips is to use high-quality ingredients and follow the recipe closely. With a little bit of practice, you can create your own perfect batch of pickles that will impress your friends and family.

Pickling Process

A large glass jar filled with sliced turnips, garlic, and ginger submerged in a brine of vinegar, salt, and sugar. A small weight holds the ingredients beneath the liquid

Pickling turnips is an easy and tasty way to preserve them. The pickling process involves salting the turnips, creating the brine, and then pickling them. Here's how you can do it at home.

Preparation of Turnips

To start, you need to prepare the turnips. First, peel the turnips and cut them into thin strips or small cubes. Then, place the turnips in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes to draw out excess water.

Creating the Brine

While the turnips are sitting, you can create the brine. In a pot, mix together vinegar, sugar, light soy sauce, and any other seasonings you like. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it cool.

The Pickling Method

Once the turnips have sat for at least 30 minutes, rinse them with cold water and pat them dry. Transfer the turnips to a sterilized jar and pour the brine over them. Make sure the turnips are completely covered by the brine.

Seal the jar and let it sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours. After that, you can store the pickled turnips in the fridge for up to a month.

Pickling turnips is a great way to add some spicy flavour to your meals. With just a few simple steps, you can make your own pickled turnips at home.

Serving Suggestions

A bowl of Chinese pickled turnips with chopsticks and a small dish of soy sauce on a wooden table


Chinese pickled turnip is a versatile condiment that can be served alongside a variety of dishes. Its tangy and slightly sweet flavour goes well with salads, sandwiches, and dips such as hummus and baba ganoush.

For a quick and easy snack, serve the pickled turnip as a garnish for sushi or shawarma. The pickled turnip can also be used as a side dish for stir-fries or soups, such as oxtail soup.

Incorporating into Meals

In addition to being a condiment, Chinese pickled turnip can also be incorporated into meals. Try adding it to stir-fried vegetables or rice dishes for an extra burst of flavour.

For a simple and satisfying meal, try making a bowl of rice topped with braised turnips and pickled turnip. The pickled turnip adds a refreshing contrast to the rich and savoury flavour of the braised turnips.

Chinese pickled turnip is a versatile condiment that can be used in a variety of ways. Experiment with different dishes and find your favourite way to enjoy it.

Storage and Preservation

A glass jar filled with sliced turnips and a mixture of salt, sugar, and spices. The jar is tightly sealed and placed on a shelf in a cool, dark pantry

Once you've made your Chinese pickled turnips, it's important to store them correctly to keep them fresh and tasty. Here are two methods for preserving your pickled turnips:

Refrigerator Pickling

Refrigerator pickling is a quick and easy way to preserve your pickled turnips for several weeks in the refrigerator. To do this, simply transfer your pickled turnips to a clean, airtight jar and store them in the refrigerator. Make sure to use a clean utensil every time you remove turnips from the jar to avoid contamination.

Long-Term Canning

If you want to preserve your pickled turnips for longer than a few weeks, canning is the way to go. To can your pickled turnips, follow these steps:

  1. Sterilize your canning jars by boiling them in water for 10 minutes.
  2. Fill the jars with your pickled turnips, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top.
  3. Pour the pickling liquid over the turnips, making sure to cover them completely.
  4. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and screw on the lids.
  5. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the jars.

Once the jars have cooled, make sure the lids are sealed properly. You can store your canned pickled turnips in a cool, dark place for up to a year.

Whether you choose to store your pickled turnips in the refrigerator or can them for long-term preservation, make sure to label them with the date so you can keep track of how long they've been stored.

Frequently Asked Questions

A jar of pickled turnips surrounded by ingredients and utensils on a kitchen counter. A recipe book lies open, with the page for "Chinese pickled turnip" visible

What's the simplest way to make Chinese pickled turnip?

The simplest way to make Chinese pickled turnip is to slice the turnip into thin rounds, mix them with salt, and let them sit for a few hours to release their water. Then, rinse the turnips and pack them into a jar with vinegar, sugar, and any desired spices. Let the turnips pickle in the fridge for a few days before enjoying.

Which recipe is considered the best for Chinese pickled turnip?

There are many different recipes for Chinese pickled turnip, and the best one depends on personal preference. Some recipes call for additional vegetables or spices, while others keep it simple with just turnip, vinegar, and sugar. It's best to experiment with a few different recipes to find the one you like the most.

Can eating turnip pickles contribute to a healthy diet?

Pickled turnips can be a healthy addition to your diet, as they are low in calories and high in fiber and vitamin C. However, they can also be high in sodium and sugar, so it's important to enjoy them in moderation.

Do pickled turnips contain beneficial probiotics?

While pickled turnips are fermented, they do not contain the same beneficial probiotics as other fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut. However, they can still be a tasty and unique addition to your diet.

Could you share some background on the tradition of pickling turnips?

Pickled turnips have a long history in Chinese cuisine, dating back to ancient times. They were often pickled as a way to preserve the vegetable for the winter months. Today, pickled turnips are still a popular snack and condiment in China and other parts of Asia.

How are Chinese pickled turnips typically served?

Chinese pickled turnips can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. They can be eaten as a snack, added to salads, or used as a condiment for sandwiches or burgers. They can also be served alongside other pickled vegetables as a side dish.