Why am I using “quotes?” Because while this is bursting with wasabi flavor, there is no actual wasabi in it. Real wasabi is hard to come by. And the stuff you and I have access to in the grocery store—the green-tinged powder, or that gunk in the tube—is just dreadful; it’s full of artificial color, preservatives, and mysterious chemicals, and the flavor shows it. Instead, I hereby direct you to buy yourself a fresh bottle of prepared horseradish, close your eyes, and tell yourself it’s wasabi for this recipe and for any sushi you make at home. If you must, add a little green food coloring or spirulina powder for color. Leftover horseradish can be smeared on your roast beef sandwich, or saved for the gefilte fish on Passover. Makes about 2¼ cups
Time: about 1 hour
1 pound carrots, preferable a mix of colors, peeled
4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1½ teaspoons very finely minced or grated fresh ginger (use a Microplane grater if you have one)
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the carrots into ribbons, getting as much out of each carrot as you can; discard (or eat) the nubs. Combine the carrots with the horseradish, salt, sugar, red pepper flakes, and ginger and toss very well, using a fork (or two, if necessary) to really work the seasoning into the carrot ribbons. Cover with a drop lid and 1 pound of weight and let sit for 30 minutes, retaining any liquid that falls to the bottom of the bowl. After a quick toss, the pickle is ready to eat; covered and refrigerated, it keeps at least 6 weeks.
I have talked about oven drying fruit before, but what can I say? I heart fruit with salt. And fruit with spice? Even better. Fruit with nuts? A classic. Smash it all together and taste buds have been known to explode.
Of the thousands of varieties of oranges that exist, few get me as excited for winter fruit as the Cara Cara Navel. My eyes eat it for its smooth skin and luscious ruby red flesh. It peels and sections like a champ, and few pesky seeds get in the way. That little bonus “belly button” of orange nestled within the orange is as thrilling as the Cracker Jack prize at the bottom of the box. And its juicy, bouncy flavor is pure orange in a world of tangerines: low in acid and a pleasure circus every time.
When this unbridled sweetness is dried it becomes a sweet and complex candy. I prefer oven drying because then I needn’t store a giant food dehydrator those 300+ days per year I’m not drying fruit, but by all means if you have one, this recipe presents an opportunity to use it.
This snack is an elegant multiplex of flavor on its own or with a White Belgian beer. While it takes time, its preparation is extremely simple, and it’s a unique cure for the common marmalade to preserve those last orange flavors of the year. With a dusting of richness from toasted nuts, the flavor bite gathers heft. Spike it with the floral notes of those unique Szechuan ‘corns, and a chile flake one-two punch, and the combination is a knockout. And the flaky sea salt? Seriously…everything’s just better with flaky sea salt.
This recipe can double or scale quite soundly; note that it will take extra drying time and that the trays in the oven should be rotated after about two hours. And while I list storage information for this fruity confection, it is doubtful to be an issue. Enjoy!
Chewy Oven Dried Orange Slices with Toasted Almond, Chile, and Szechuan Peppercorn
Author: Karen Solomon
Recipe type: fruit
Cuisine: oven dried
This preparation is extremely simple, and it’s a unique cure for the common marmalade to preserve orange flavor. With a dusting of richness from toasted nuts, a spike of floral Szechuan peppercorns, and chile’s one-two punch, the flavor bite gathers heft.
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
1½ tsp dried chile flakes
15 raw almonds
½ tsp flaky sea salt
3 sweet Cara-Cara or Navel oranges
Vegetable oil (for the rack)
In a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, toast the peppercorns, chile flakes, and almonds for 2-3 minutes. The almonds will darken in spots and the spices will become aromatic. Cool the spices slightly, then grind in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder until fine, being careful not to let the nuts grind into a paste. In a small bowl, toss the ground spices with the salt.
Meanwhile, with a very sharp knife, supreme the oranges by slicing off all the skin and pith. Slice the fruit into very thin rounds, discarding seeds as you go.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and lower the rack to its lowest setting. Lightly oil a cooling rack and place it over a baking sheet. Or, if your oven rack is clean enough to cook on directly, lightly oil the rack.
Lay the orange slices in a single layer and sprinkle the spice mixture generously over the top. Place the rack in the oven with a wooden spoon wedged in the door to keep it slightly ajar. Let the oranges dry for about 3 hours, until the fruit is dry to the touch.
Remove the oranges from the rack immediately; they are ready to eat. Store either uncovered at room temperature in a cool, dry place or sealed airtight with a packet of desiccant (plucked from a package of seaweed).
I’m teaching a class tonight at food and art community space 18 Reasons on Curious and Peculiar Pickles – whey pickles, Kool Aid pickles, rice bran pickles; pickles made with soy sauce, miso, and nothing but salt. In short, the unsung pickling alternatives to our beloved ‘kraut and dills. I have really been digging working on these pickle recipes, and I will likely turn this into a blog series. What other odd birds do you like to pack into a pint jar?
Lucky me, the class is sold out! But if you’re an unlucky you who was not able to sign up, I present to you your next pickling challenge: Beer Brine Pickles. The beer adds a nice malty, bitter edge to these robust pickles. And I won’t even tell you what drink pairs with these well….:>
If you live in San Francisco, there are also two upcoming classes on lactofermented pickles and pickling with fruit that I highly recommend.
2 12 oz. bottles Anchor Steam beer (or another medium- to full-bodied beer)
2 lbs. small pickling cucumbers (Persians, Kirby’s, etc.
3 cloves garlic
3 dried chili peppers
1 T each yellow mustard seeds, black peppercorns, and kosher salt, divided
Distilled white vinegar
Gather three clean pint-sized canning jars with lids. If you’re planning to can these pickles, sterilize your jars and lids. Note that canning these pickles is not necessary.
Pour the beer into a large saucepan – larger than you think, as it will foam quite a bit. Set over high heat until boiling and foaming, stirring occasionally to reduce the foam. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low and let the beer simmer for about 15 minutes, until it reduces by about a third.
Meanwhile, scrub the cucumbers really well (especially the ends). Quarter them lengthwise and, if needed, trim them to fit into the jars.
In the bottom of each jar, place one clove of garlic (with an X cut into it), one chili pepper, and one teaspoon each of the mustard seed, peppercorns, and salt. Tilt the jar on its side and stack the pickles into the jar as tightly as possible.
Fill each jar halfway with the hot beer, and then top it off with vinegar until the vegetables are fully submerged. Cap tightly and shake to combine.
If you’re canning these pickles, use only sterilized jars and lids. Loosen the cap to fingertip-tight and then process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. If you’re making refrigerator pickles, let the pickles sit at room temperature for 24 hours, then move them to the fridge. The flavor of the pickles will be at its best after 3 days.
Burdock root is a mysterious vegetable for the Western table, but it needn’t be. It’s mild and slightly sweet, and its texture is somewhere between jicama and sunchokes/rutabaga. These long, brown, starchy-looking vegetable logs used to be exclusive to Asian groceries, but here in San Francisco I’ve even been finding them in big chain grocery stores as of late. They boil up beautifully in soup (pickled or raw) and it’s terrific in any kind of stir fried or boiled rice dish. As a pickle, it fully stands up on its own. The only trick to burdock is that it discolors to a hideous brown very quickly – much more so than potatoes – so some caution has to be taken to keep its creamy white color.
1 lb. fresh burdock root
4 T red umezu (ume plum vinegar)
6 T unseasoned rice vinegar
3 T sugar
¼ cup water
Burdock loves to go brown as quickly as it’s peeled. Let’s keep it from getting its way by peeling it with the help of an acidic water bath. Ready a large bowl of cool water and add a couple of tablespoons of white distilled vinegar or the juice of half a lemon.
Additionally, set a medium saucepan of water on to boil.
And in a vessel or measuring cup with a pouring spout, combine the umezu, vinegar, sugar, and water to make the brine.
Chop the burdock into 4-inch lengths. Working with one piece at a time, peel it very deeply. its woody, fibrous skin tends to run fairly deep. After peeling, transfer each piece to the acidic water bath. Then, working with one piece at a time again, slice the burdock into thin circular coins, placing them back in the acidic bath as you go.
When your water is boiling, drain the burdock and transfer it to the pot. Boil the vegetable for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the burdock tastes tender and sweet.
Drain the burdock well and pack it into a glass jar(s). Pour the brine over to cover, secure with a lid, and let it sit at room temperature for one day before refrigerating. Your burdock is ready to eat, but it will taste even better after three days.
These have the taste of the classic barrel-aged dill pickle of a Jewish deli, bursting with a nice boost of salt and a naturally-created tanginess. Cucumbers are the classic, but by all means, try this with green, unripened tomatoes or Brussels sprouts. And feel free to add additional flavorings such as celery seed, ajwain seed, cumin seed, dill seed, juniper, or whole mustard seeds.
About 2 pounds small Kirby, Persian or other small pickling cucumbers
¼ cup kosher salt (or about 50 grams)
3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1-2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
One bunch fresh dill
First, prepare the cucumbers. Scrub them really well, particularly the root ends, as these can leave your pickles soggy.
Place the garlic, pepper, and dill in the bottom of a large glass jar or crock, and stack in the cucumbers. Pack them in as tightly as you can without bruising.
Meanwhile, in a separate pitcher, combine the salt with 1 quart of water until it makes a cloudy brine.
Pour the brine over the cucumbers until they are completely covered in liquid (even if it means mixing up a second batch of brine). The vegetables will want to float: dissuade them from doing so by adding weight (such as a bag full of water over a drop lid) at the top of the jar to fully submerge them.
Cover loosely with a kitchen towel to let air in and keep debris out. Let the jar or crock sit in a cool, dark place.
After a few days, you will start to notice some small natural fermentation bubbles and a “pickled” aroma; this is good. You may also see mold spores or slime on top; remove them and discard, and keep checking for their reappearance very few days. Taste after 7-14 days (vegetables will ferment faster in warmer weather, and larger vegetable take longer to ferment). Feel free to let your pickles go longer if you’d like them to get more sour and tender (however, note that they will also continue to sour, albeit more slowly, in the fridge). Many people let them go for months for a really tangy taste.
When they are ready to eat, either cover tightly or transfer to jars with lids and refrigerate. Be sure to evenly distribute the liquid with the solids (and if you need more liquid, mix up another batch of brine). These will keep refrigerated for several months. However, note that the flavor and the texture will continue to evolve, and that your pickles will be at their best after being refrigerated for about a week.
Time: About 1-3 weeks
These pickles should not be canned.