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Son Labu – Tibetan Pickled Radish

Son Labu_small copyAt the onset of winter months, I  like making son-labu. The thought of this pungent, spicy, salty-sour pickled radish dish, a favorite of mine from my childhood days,  makes my mouth water. Most cultures have some form of pickled vegetable and in our’s, we have son-labu. Son-labu is delicious eaten by itself or even better, stir-fried with some beef … son-labu ngoe-pa, with some tingmo or bhaley.

Traditionally, the pickling brine is never thrown out. One just adds salted water to the left over brine, and the jar is filled up with more radish slices. The important thing is not to contaminate the liquid with anything – in my home, we always had a separate pair of long wooden chopsticks hanging by the son-labu pot that would be used exclusively for taking out son-labu.

Below is my simplified short-cut recipe for Son-Labu. Hope you enjoy it.



1 Medium Daikon Radish

4 small red radishes

1 inch Ginger (big slices)

1 tea spoon Emma (Szechuan pepper)

1 Table spoon salt

5 red whole Chili peppers

1 cup White Vinegar

2 cups Water

1 Large Air-tight Jar


  1. Peel the daikon radish, then slice the Radish into thin bite size pieces
  2. Slice the red radish similarly.  The skin of the red radish is what will turn your son-labu into a beautiful pink color.
  3. Sprinkle your cut radish with about 2 Tablespoons of Salt and let sit for about an hour. This will draw out some excess water from the radish, resulting in a crunchier son-labu.chopped sonlabu_small copy
  4. To prepare the brine – mix 1 part white vinegar to 2 parts cold water.
  5. Drain the radish, pack it into your air-tight container. Add the brine with the rest of your spices – Ginger, Emma, Salt, whole red chilies.
  6. Let rest overnight in a cool place and then refrigerate. Son-labu should be ready within 2-3 days.

8 comments on “Son Labu – Tibetan Pickled Radish

  1. Terrence M
    October 21, 2022

    Greaat blog I enjoyed reading

  2. Pingback: Son Labu | Mark Masselli Vegetarian

  3. simplytibetan
    November 6, 2013

    Thank you Pema la. The recipe calls for Labu but I added chinese cabbage this time. You should also try Son Labu Ngoe-pa with meat. Yummy with tingmo 🙂

  4. Pema Chagzoetsang
    November 6, 2013

    Thank you! I have always wanted to make Son-labu but never got a recipe. Now I can make some Son-labu – looks so easy! With gratitude…

  5. Marie
    August 21, 2013

    Hi there! Just wanted to say that I loved this recipe and have mentioned it today on my blog.

  6. Pingback: Making Son Labu- Tibetan Pickle

  7. tenkus
    February 9, 2013

    I have always been wanting this recipe so today I am going to try this recipe for losar to go with sha Doktsoe. Hope it turns out well for me. I tried your laphing recipe and its a hit in my family.

  8. TMC
    January 2, 2013

    I’ve been wanting to try home pickling… this might be a good place to start! Thank you and Tashi Delek!

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This entry was posted on December 31, 2012 by in Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , .

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