11 March 2013

Quick Tasty Pickled Things

Yesterday was Sunday and a designated "kitchen day". I recently made a visit to may favorite oriental market and stocked up on a variety of fresh mushrooms, daikon radishes, and a sundry of the other beautiful produce they offer. I left with six bags of produce stuffed to the gills and a couple of bags of other things like hoisin sauce, green and jasmine tea, nori, hijiki and black tree fungus, all for $55! I definitely get the best bang for my food bucks when I can shop at this market.

With my stash of daikon and mushrooms taking up space in my cramped fridge, a kitchen day was in order. Since it was the weekend, my husband was able to help me out in the kitchen. We lit a fire in our "new to us" 1890's wood stove, put Baroque and before music on Pandora and spent a happy day preparing various goodies to have on hand in the fridge for this week. One of the things that we prepared was several variations on the theme of pickled daikon radishes. We also made a huge pot of mushroom stock, (which made the house smell wonderful), roasted oriental eggplant for making Baba Ghanouj, and filled the dehydrator with onion slices to dry, for the long term storage pantry.

My husband peeled the daikon radishes with a vegetable peeler, cut off the top and bottom, and then made three lengthwise cuts from end to end. He then cut the daikon to a length to fit just below the neck of a wide-mouth canning jar, the shorter piece will be turned into cubes and treated to a different brine than the long pieces. The long thin slices were then be cut into julienne strips. I have a Mandoline slicer, which I use a lot, especially for preparing vegetables for the dehydrator, but for the daikon, I like the hand cut julienne strips better. Once the strips were finished, and arranged in the jars, a brine was made to cover the radish strips. The brine consisted of: 1 cup of water, three to four cloves of smashed and slivered garlic, 1/2-3/4 tsp. sea salt,  1/2-3/4 cup agave, or 1 cup organic sugar, (make a simple syrup if using sugar), plus one cup of white vinegar, Braggs Apple Cider vinegar or whatever other vinegar you choose. Pour mixture over the daikon strips in the jar. I use a plastic wide mouth jar lid instead of the twp piece metal lid, since the daikon will gas a little during the pickling process and the plastic cap isn't as tight a fit as the canning lids, so the gasses can sneak out. If you don't have the plastic lids that is fine, just don't screw the two piece lid down tight so the gasses can escape. The jars will sit in the fridge for at least 3 days and then I can use them for adding to salads, for use in vegan sushi or for my favorite use, to be the sparkle in the Vietnamese-style spring rolls that I make to go along with vegan Pho... yum!

The cubed daikon will be treated in two different ways. I will put some of the cubes and in a jar with finely chopped red bell peppers add 6 garlic cubes smashed and slivered, then covered with seasoned rice wine vinegar, (I usually use Maruchan), which is more mellow than the white vinegar and allows the garlic flavor to take center stage. The rest of the daikon were layered in a jar with blanched cauliflower, blanched baby carrots, onion slices and Thai bird chiles, (I grow my own, but they can be found in most oriental markets during their season, or  you can use dried cayenne peppers soaked and split, or red pepper flakes). The brine was the same as for the daikon strips, except that I cut the sugar quantity in half. These also should be left in the fridge for at least three days before use, more if you want the Thai chiles to have time to impart well developed bite to the veggies. We add the cubes to salads, or eat them as a side dish or use as a condiment for flavoring steamed rice.
The veggies are packed tight in the jars. I layer them because I think it is pretty, but you could just mix them all together and then pack into jars. When I do this I also add halved Brussel sprouts which are quite tasty pickled!
When pouring in the cooled brine, be sure to gently tap the jar to dislodge air bubbles that get trapped between the veggies. If they are stubborn and won't come loose, I use a bamboo skewer to slide down between the veggies and knock the bubbles loose.

Left to right, front to back: pickled mixed veggies with bird chiles, daikon cubes in rice wine vinegar, and in the back, sweet and sour pickled daikon strips.
The pickled veggies are good to dress up every day food, or add a little sparkle to left overs. But the best reason for having these crunchy, tasty and easy to make pickled goodies in the fridge, is that it makes it possible to make some of our favorites like vegan sushi or Vietnamese spring rolls in short order. I cook up large batches of sushi rice, season it and freeze it in serving sized packages, (quart sized freezer bags). The rice can be thawed in a few minutes by immersing the tightly sealed, bag in hot water. While the rice is thawing I prepare the vegetables by cutting thin strips of cukes, thinly julienned carrots, mung bean sprouts, and avacado strips, or really whatever is in the fridge... red bell peppers, jicima, thin strips of celery, steamed asparagus... and of course I drain some of the daikon pickles and have everything ready and waiting to roll up in nori sheets by the time the rice is thawed. I will do a blog post on making sushi sometime soon. They are fun and easy, and cost pennies to make. I hope you will give the daikon pickles a try, and if you do, please stop by and let me know what you think and how you used them... I would love to hear what you came up with!

Blog Hops this post is linked to:
Clever Chicks Blog Hop #25 
Monday's Homestead Barn Hop #102
Busy Bee's 8th Thursday Blog Hop
The Country Home Blog Hop #58 
Farm Girl Friday #100
Farm Girl Blog Fest #24
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