Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Pickled Japanese Cucumbers
A couple of Japanese cucumbers followed me home from the market. They lay in my crisper all slender and green. They seemed to be taunting me, and all other tubby cucumbers out there, with their lean taut bodies. So smug they sat, unblinking, secure in the knowledge of their perfection.
I made short work of them. Oh yes I did. Now they are pickled for me to enjoy at my leisure…their crisp tart deliciousness.
I used to strongly dislike pickles. Once upon a time, when I was just a little girl, and all the pickles I knew of were sweet pickle relish (which I can’t eat to this day) and sad dill pickles that had sat too long on a supermarket shelf. When I started cooking however, I discovered a whole other world of pickles. Pickles that were far afield from the sad specimens of my childhood. Pickles you made yourself with ingredients carefully chosen and infused with all kinds of different flavors. Pickles from all over the world – Japan (I love Japanese pickles!), Slovakia, and right here in my beloved islands.
I don’t have an actual pickle recipe, as I’ve mentioned here. Since my pickles are done in small batches and stored in the refrigerator (as opposed to long-term storage for my non-existent winter) I don’t go through strenuous sterilization procedures. I usually use a base of vinegar, salt, and sugar, then add whatever else, by way of herbs and spices, that suit my present mood. With these Japanese cucumbers I used rice vinegar (delicious for pickles!) and a lot of freshly cracked black pepper (which I love with cucumber pickles). Some salt, some sugar, and a short nap in the fridge to chill, and they are ready! Excellent side for fish or grilled pork, or tucked into a ham sandwich.
Now I love pickles. I still avoid sweet pickle relish and those ages-old jars of dill pickles on the supermarket shelves, but I have embraced the rest of the pickle world with much affection and fervor. Not only are they, I’ve found, delicious, they are also an excellent way to preserve vegetables…if perhaps you have a bit too much on your hands, or if you are simply tired of looking at a couple of skinny cucumbers! ;)
***check out the lovely pickles here! This will be next on my list of pickle recipes to try...