Fast Japanese Pickles

These keep in their marinade for about two weeks in the refrigerator, but are best within a couple of hours of pickling.

Talk about a refresher and perfect with drinks, these pickles deliver flavors that are snappy, clean and fresh with great crunch. These are not the same-old, same-old holiday snack or another mouthful of over-the-top richness. This recipe can turn a turnip, of all things, into something you take for seconds and thirds.

In short these pickles, mainstays of Japanese tables for generations, taste as though they were designed to set off new cocktail concoctions.

Make extra because for the next couple of weeks you can snack on them with eggs, rice (dice into hot rice for a snack), rice noodles, on sandwiches, and as sides with just about anything.

Marinade:

  • 3 cups Japanese rice vinegar (not "seasoned")
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 6 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chile (for mild use ancho or Aleppo; for hotter use ground New Mexico, pasilla, smokey chipotle or cayenne)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Vegetables:

(Use what appeals -- from peppers, cucumbers and raw sweet potatoes (definitely worth a try), to onions, cauliflower and beets. Below is a possible combination.)

  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slivers
  • 2 to 3 small turnips, peeled, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds, each cut into 4 pie-like wedges
  • 8 to 10 red radishes, cut into thirds

In a storage container stir together the vinegar, salt, sugar, chile and zest until the sugar is dissolved. Taste for balance.

Pour about a 1/4 of the pickling blend into a smaller container. This is where you'll pickle the radishes so their color won't tint the other vegetables. The turnips and carrots go into the larger container.

Chill 30 minutes up to a couple of hours. Drain before serving.

Spear the pickles with picks -- set them in small shallow bowls to show off colors.

Japanese Pickles
(Photo: MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson)

Recipe copyright 2013 Lynne Rossetto Kasper. This recipe was part of a story that originally appeared on MPR News.

Prep time: 
20 minutes plus 30 minutes refrigerator time
Total time: 
50 minutes
Yield: 
Makes about 3 cups of pickled vegetables and multiplies easily

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