Though I haven’t tried my hand at pickling (before now that is), I’m a card-carrying dill lover. When I was little my Mum made sour dill pickles every year, to the delight of me and my sister. Every spring we’d return from the market with basketfuls of tiny, perfect cucumbers, and through some magical process of vinegar, garlic, jars and time, they became pickles. I remember the jars lined up on the shelves of our cellar, and the long and tortuous wait until the day my Dad would fire up the grill and call for one of us to bring up a jar for dinner. (I also remember us sneaking sips of pickle brine straight from the jar, much to our parents’ disgust. Surely it would have been worse to pour ourselves a glass?)
I’m not sure why my Mum ended her pickling adventures. Possibly because that “magical process” involved a fair amount of work, and weeks of two little voices whining “Can I have a pickle yet?”. Or perhaps she became worried about enamel erosion from all that acidic pickle brine. In any case, she hasn’t made her pickles in years, though I’m pretty sure they’d still beat any competition to a pulp.
No surprise then, that when I wrote on Sunday about my what-to-do-with-these-radishes problem, it was Mum to the rescue with a recipe for quick-pickled vegetables. She’d been telling me about her most recent library acquisition, the Momofuku cookbook, and had recently tried this lightning-quick dish with delicious results. You simply marinate the vegetables in sugar and salt for 15 minutes, rinse and enjoy. A crisp, faintly pickled snack that’s addictive in this hot weather.
For my pickles, I opted to use a combination of radishes and cucumbers. It worked perfectly, the radishes stayed firm and crispy while the cucumbers became pleasantly yielding. I also love the extreme beauty of this snack; the combination of pink and green has always been a favourite, and this incarnation just looks like summer on a plate.
I enjoyed mine in a salad of sorts; tossed with some green onions, red wine vinegar and another sprinkling of salt, they made a great addition to a rag-tag, odds-and-ends-from-the-fridge sort of lunch. In fact, they may have been my favourite element in the whole meal (well, aside from that chocolate chip cookie, of course).
This modest success has definitely inspired me to try a bit more pickling. It might be a few years until I work up to my Mum’s dill pickles, but I’m thinking of trying Momofuku’s vinegar version next.
Quick-Pickled Radishes and Cucumbers
recipe from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan
- 100g radishes
- 100g cucumber
- 1 Tbs. sugar
- 1 tsp. fine salt
- flaky sea salt, to taste
- Rinse the vegetables well and chop into equal-sized pieces. I cut each radish in half lengthwise then cut the cucumber to match that size, but there are lots of possibilities here. Cut everything into thin rounds, or small square chunks, or even julienne them.
- Put the chopped vegetables into a small bowl and sprinkle over the sugar and salt. Mix well and allow to sit for 15 minutes, mixing once or twice during that time.
- Rinse the pickles well and taste- you may want to add a pinch or two of sea salt. Serve as a snack, accompaniment or as part of a dish, but eat within four hours.