Saturday, May 5, 2012

Quick Asian Pickles

We often forget how easy it is to make quick pickled vegetables.  This is a great alternative to canning pickles when you know you will eat them all relatively quickly.  After a recent purchase of diakon, a white root vegetable most often used in Asian cooking, we decided to make some quick pickles.  Daikon looks like a giant carrot in shape, but has a pungent smell and tastes like a cross between a radish and a turnip.  Along with it, we sliced up carrots and a cucumber to add to the pickling mix.  
Using rice vinegar gives the pickles a different flavor than the usual white or apple cider vinegar.  We also sliced up some Thai chiles to give the pickles a little heat.   The end result makes us wonder why we don't pickle more often!  These were great as an acidic complement along side a red curry dish with rice, but they are also great to snack on.  The longer you let them sit, the softer they will get and the more the flavors will infuse.  If you use hot chiles like we did, they will get progressively spicier too. As a note, the word "quick" is used here relative to how long normal pickles take.  This still takes some time, but is manageable in a a couple hours as opposed to a couple days.
3 carrots, sliced into thin sticks
1 large English cucumber, halved, seeded, and sliced
1 daikon, peeled, halved, and sliced (if you can't find daikon you could use another cucumber)
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1-3 Thai chiles, minced (or other hot pepper) 

In a bowl, combine the vegetables and the salt.  Let it sit for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  This releases the liquid of the vegetables and you will see it building up in the bottom of the bowl. 
Meanwhile, combine the rice vinegar and sugar into a bowl and whisk.  Let it sit until the sugar dissolves, and add the chiles.
Drain the vegetables well.  In a large gallon-sized zip-lock, combine the vegetables with the vinegar mixture.  Squeeze the air out and seal the bag.  
Let the bag sit in the fridge for an hour before serving.  You can leave them in the bag for up to a couple weeks- but ours definitely didn't last that long!  As I said, the longer they sit the more the flavors will infuse, the softer the pickles will be, and the spicier they will taste if you used hot chiles. If you like pickles, these will not disappoint!  They are super easy and definitely worth the effort.  Try the recipe with other veggies to mix it up.  Enjoy!


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