Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi from Asian Pickles Korea

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi

Kimchi is often synonymous with cabbage, but really it’s any kind of salted and preserved vegetable (or fruit, or seafood) on the Korean table. The humble cucumber, the iconic vegetable of pickling in many minds, does a new trick in this pickle. Stuff it, cucumbers!

Stuffed Cucumber Kimchi Recipe (Oi-sobagi Kimchi)

(from Asian Pickles Korea)

Time: about 1½ hours

  • 3 pounds English hothouse cucumbers or thin-skinned salad cucumbers on the slim side (not pickling cucumbers)
  • 2 tablespoons fine sea salt
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and trimmed
  • 2 green onions, roots and tough tops trimmed and outer leaves removed
  • 9 cloves garlic
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¾ cup Korean chile flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ ounce dried shrimp, optional

Wash the cucumbers and trim and discard the ends. Cut the cucumbers into fourteen 2-inch sections. Stand each piece upright on a work surface and cut an X shape halfway (1 inch) down into each piece, leaving the bottom inch intact. Stand the cukes up in a shallow dish and sprinkle the salt on their bottoms and tops and down into the X cut. Let them sit upright for 1 hour to leach out some of their juice.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Dice the carrot and the green onion. You can do this by hand, or by cutting them into chunks and pulsing about 20 times in a food processor. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, chile flakes, fish sauce, sugar, and dried shrimp. Puree into a paste, pausing to scrape down solids from the sides. This should take about a minute or so. Once smooth, fold the paste into the carrots and the onion.

Drain any liquid that has pooled in the bottom of the cucumber dish, and lightly pat the cucumbers dry with a paper towel or kitchen cloth. Stuff about 2 to 3 teaspoons of the filling into each cucumber, working to get as much into the center as possible, and mounding a dollop on top.

These pickles are ready to eat immediately, or they can be served at room temperature for about 12 hours. Unused portions should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 days.

Korean Spinach with Sesame Banchan Recipe from Asian Pickles Korea

Spinach with Sesame (Sigeumchi Namul)

Spinach-with-Sesame

(from Asian Pickles Korea)

Is there someone in your house who won’t touch their greens? This pickle-ish, pungent side dish is a way to make them irresistible. The recipe is pretty straightforward, but I must implore you: don’t use the bags of prewashed baby spinach meant for salads. I mean, you can, but you will likely not be as happy with the results; the dish will end up too watery and bland, as it’s very difficult to squeeze those tiny baby leaves dry. Seek out dirty ol’ bunches of grown-up spinach with the roots attached for the best results. Makes 3 cups

TIME: 30 MINUTES

  • 1 pound 6 ounces fresh bunched spinach
  • 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 6 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons black sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons Korean chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, wash the spinach by soaking it thoroughly in a basin or sink full of water, swirling it with vigor and making sure to leave the root ends attached. Wash thoroughly as needed to ensure that the spinach gets really clean (spinach with the roots attached often hides dirt in the darndest places). Allow the washed spinach to drain in a colander.

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the sesame seeds until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour the seeds immediately into a medium-sized mixing bowl to cool. Add the garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, sugar, and vin­egar, and stir to combine.

Once the water is boiling, add the spinach all at once, using a utensil to submerge it in the water and to stir it for even cooking. Cook for 1 minute, just enough so the spinach wilts but retains its bright green color.

Drain the spinach through a colander and immediately rinse with cold water, stirring it with your hands, to cool the spinach and stop its cooking. Working in 4 batches, gather the spinach into bundles. Holding each bundle by its root ends, squeeze the greens to remove the water, starting from the stems and work­ing your way down to the leaves. Squeeze repeatedly and very firmly, until not a drop more liquid can be released. (Really—get in there and SQUEEZE!) Roll up the spinach tightly inside a clean kitchen towel (or two) and squeeze again to truly extract as much moisture from it as possible.

Lay the spinach flat on a cutting board and cut off and discard the root ends. Chop the spinach into 4 equal lengths. Add it to the marinade and toss well to coat. The spinach is now ready to eat.

“Wasabi” Pickled Carrots Recipe – from Asian Pickles Japan

Wasabi Carrots

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.

Chewy Oven Dried Orange Slices with Toasted Almond, Chile, and Szechuan Peppercorn

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. OrangeSzechAlmond

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: 
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.
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
Notes
Makes about 24 slices.

Pickled Burdock Root Recipe – Bonus Tsukemono from Asian Pickles Japan e-book

burdock root by http://www.flickr.com/photos/43551706@N02/Help! I can’t stop pickling with Asian ingredients!

My own personal 12-step issues aside, this is a tasty “quickle” (quick + pickle) using a simple preparation on an ingredient avid picklers are likely dying to try – burdock root.

Happy pickling!

Pickled Burdock Root Japanese Tsukemono Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
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.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. fresh burdock root
  • 4 T red umezu (ume plum vinegar)
  • 6 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 T sugar
  • ¼ cup water
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Additionally, set a medium saucepan of water on to boil.
  3. And in a vessel or measuring cup with a pouring spout, combine the umezu, vinegar, sugar, and water to make the brine.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 20 oz