Technicolor Vietnamese Pickles (Do Chua)

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Technicolor Vietnamese Pickles (Do Chua)

Asian pickles do not adhere strictly to Western pickling methods (quick pickles, salt-brined etc) nor do we have a tradition of canning using sterilized jars and such. This method is a combination of quick pickles and salt-brined pickles and they’ll keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. But they hardly ever last that long. This combination makes a sweeter pickle so adjust according to your taste. Use them in bánh mì sandwiches or Vietnamese vermicelli noodles.

Time: 45 minutes, 15 minutes active
Makes: 1 quart

5 carrots (about 2 pounds) in white, burgundy, and orange
6 large celery sticks (about 1 pound)
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup water
1 cup rice or distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
Dried chilies (optional)
Peel and cut the carrots crosswise into thirds.

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Then slice them vertically down the middle into three planks and then cut each plank into matchsticks. Cut the celery to the same shape and size.

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Place the carrots and celery in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with salt. Mix well and let the vegetables sit for about 30 minutes to draw out moisture and allow the pickling brine to penetrate the vegetables more thoroughly for better texture and flavor. They should be soft and pliable at the end of it. Rinse and drain.

While the vegetables are sitting, make the pickling liquid by combining the water, vingar and sugar in a medium bowl. Heat the pickling liquid in the microwave on high for one minute. Stir to dissolve the sugar completely.

Pack the carrots, and celery and dried chilies, in two pint-sized (16-ounce) jars. Divide the pickling liquid between the two jars. Seal and refrigerate.

Steep for at least 2 hours and enjoy. The pickles will keep in the refrigerator for four weeks, if they’re not gone by then!

Vietnamese pickles

Tickle Me With Pickles

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I never thought I had it in me. I buy kimchi. I eat kimchi. But I never imagined I would one day make kimchi. Not only did I make kimchi, I made 2 different types of kimchi-this one with Chinese cabbage and another with oysters (recipe coming)!

If you’re a kimchi novice just like I was, I highly recommend trying this simple recipe courtesy of Yangja Im. All it takes is patience and a love of kimchi–yes, you have to want to eat it.

Korean Pickled Vegetables a.k.a. Kimchi

Sour-sweet and spicy with nutty overtones, kimchi is a delightful explosion of tastes and textures in the mouth. The methods of making are just as varied as the ingredients that go into them–Chinese cabbage is the most common. Kimchi isn’t all that difficult to make as Yangja Im’s recipe demonstrates. In fact, Yangja makes it almost every week. She calls it a “not so traditional” kimchi recipe but to non-connoisseurs (like me), it tastes pretty authentic. For those who are interested, she does tack on some optional ingredients to make it more traditional.

Time: 30 minutes, plus salting and fermenting time
Makes: 1 gallon of kimchi

1 (about 3 pounds) firm Chinese cabbage
3 Kirby cucumbers, or 2 lean Korean cucumbers, trimmed and quartered lengthwise (or cut into bite-sized pieces, if you prefer)
1 small (about 2 to 3 cups) Asian radish (daikon), peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (1-inch cubes or similarly-sized half moons are fine)
2 tablespoons coarse sea or kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 one-inch knob fresh ginger, grated
1 green onion, white and green parts, cut into 1/2 inch lengths
2 long hot green or red peppers, cut diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick rings
2 tablespoons Korean red pepper powder (koch’u karu)
1 tablespoon sugar

Optional ingredients:
1 large red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon Korean salted shrimp or fish sauce
2 tablespoons water

Wash the cabbage thoroughly and cut the stem out with a V-notch. Halve the cabbage lengthwise and then cut into 1- by 1 1/2-inch pieces.

In a 6-quart non-reactive bowl, combine the cabbage, cucumber, and radish and sprinkle evenly with salt. Let the salted vegetables sit for 3 hours and toss every half hour. The salt will draw out water from the vegetables and they will shrink.

Add the garlic, ginger, green onion, hot peppers, red pepper powder and sugar to the salted vegetables. Mix well with your hands (be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid chili burn).

OR

In a blender, combine the ginger, green onion, hot peppers, red pepper powder, and sugar with optional ingredients (bell pepper, onion, salted shrimp, and water) and purée until it becomes a thick liquid. Add to the salted vegetables and mix well with your hands (be sure to wear rubber gloves to avoid chili burn).

Transfer pickled vegetables into a 1-gallon jar or divide among 4 one-quart jars, pressing down firmly to remove any air bubbles and so the vegetables are covered with as much juice as possible. Leave about 2 inches at the top to give vegetables room to breathe.

Wrap the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap before screwing on the lid to prevent odors. Let stand at room temperature overnight, then refrigerate for up to one week.

Serve well-chilled as a side dish or in Bi-bim-bap.

Pat’s notes:

Use non-reactive materials (glass, stainless steel or ceramic) for all cooking utensils, measuring spoons, bowls and containers. Don’t use plastic as it picks up color. To store, use sterilized wide mouth glass or ceramic jars with screw-top lids.