Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Pickled

...vegetables, that is, although I wouldn't be that surprised if my liver were in the same condition. The Christmas period can be quite punishing what with work parties, catching up with old friends, and any other excuse to go out and celebrate.

Recently, myself and a bunch of food blogger friends went for a quick bite after a wine tasting at Ping Pong, a chain of dim sum restaurants. The dim sum is pretty average, but what stood out was a dish of pickled celery (right) which was immediately ordered due to my love of all
things, excepting eggs and walnuts, pickled. It was a rather meagre dish which was wolfed down with gusto, and I decided then to have a bash at making it myself.

So, a month or so later, my sister gave me Yan-Kit So's Classic Chinese Cookery book for Christmas. It's a lovely book with a great chapter on Chinese ingredients and full of brightly coloured and well styled photos. A quick flick through drew my attention immediately to a recipe called 'Chinese Pickled Vegetables' - just what I wanted. So, armed with the recipe, I set about making it last night, with some minor alterations.

Yan-Kit So's recipe doesn't use chillis or sesame, but I added these as I couldn't see it working out badly.

Chinese Pickled Vegetables

Makes enough to accompany a meal for 4

1/2 a cucumber
350gr carrots
5 sticks of celery
2 tbsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 red chillis
A small pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp sesame seeds
A drizzle of toasted sesame oil

Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and deseed. Slice into even batons. Peel the carrots and slice into the same sized batons as the cucumber, and do the same for the celery. I find that if you run a vegetable peeler down the length of the celery, it'll get rid of any unwanted stringy bits. Put all the vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with the salt, tossing it all together so that it all gets an even coating. Leave to drain for 2 1/2 hours. While draining, the vegetables will limpen slightly, but this is normal.

Next, give the vegetables a quick rinse and pat dry, leaving them still slightly damp. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the vinegar (don't do what I did and mistaken mirin for rice wine vinegar - luckily I noticed in time!). Add the chopped up chillis, the chilli flakes and the sesame seeds, then add the vegetables. Toss well, so that all the vegetables get a coating, then drizzle with the sesame oil and toss again. Cover, and put in the fridge overnight.

I had a quick taste of them today, and the result is delicious. The celery loses it's raw flavour (which I'm not a huge fan of) but still keeps it's crunch, as does the carrot and the cucumber. It's sweet yet salty, and a nice subtle tang from the rice vinegar. It packs quite a punch, so if you're not a big chilli head then perhaps leave out the chilli flakes. I doubt these will make it to the table; I keep nibbling on them here and there. The sesame also enhances the sweetness of the vegetables, although next time I think I will up the cucumber and decrease some celery, as I think the cucumber is the star of the show.

6 comments:

Ginger said...

We did something similar to this a while ago and while I'm not a huge fan of pickled things, I really enjoyed them. They provide a great contrast to hot or deeply flavoured dishes don't they.

Helen said...

Yay! Glad you blogged it. Hurrah for all things pickled - we salute you!

Gourmet Chick said...

I think my liver is pickled after Christmas/ New Years as well! Am contemplating a no alcohol January - we will see how my willpower goes...

Lizzie said...

I think February is a better time to stop drinking... it's a shorter month ;)

Anne said...

I made these for last night and they were yummy, very crunchy and a nice spicy kick! I had some pak choi going spare so used the fleshy part, worked well :)

Kake said...

I made a variant on these the other day, using just cucumber. They were really good, and I don't actually like cucumber. Since swapping from Abel & Cole to Riverford, we can no longer exclude items from our veg box, so I suspect I'll be making these pickles again!