Sichuan-Inspired Pickled Vegetables

Ellen Silverman
You will love what happens to radishes and carrots in this pickle -- one turns a sheer sunset pink while the other practically pulsates orange. Chinese pickles are a cook's great cheat. In an elaborate Chinese menu, they save you from having to pull off time-consuming appetizers while they tune up palates for what's to come. Although these pickles are Chinese in origin, they happily pair up with a burger, a bowl of beans, or a plate of grilled chicken. 

The pickles keep for a month in the refrigerator.

Marinade:
  • 2-1/2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 generous teaspoon medium-hot ground chile (mirasol, guajillo, New Mexico, or hot Hungarian paprika)
  • 1 star anise, broken, or 1 teaspoon anise seed, bruised  
  • 1-1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 6 pieces
  • One 3- to 4-inch piece cinnamon stick, broken into several pieces
Vegetables:
  • 2 to 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal into 1/2-inch thick slivers
  • 8 to 10 red radishes, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and chile. Heat until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. 

2. Wash and rinse two 1-pint glass jars with very hot water.   

3. Divide the anise, ginger and cinnamon between them, then the carrots in one jar and the radishes in the other. Pour half the vinegar mixture into each, cover, cool and store in the refrigerator. Use after 12 to 24 hours. Keep refrigerated.

4. When ready to serve the pickles, drain them, then place in small bowls with toothpicks, or eat as finger foods.

From The Splendid Table's How to Eat Weekends by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift, Clarkson Potter 2011.

Prep time: 
20 minutes
Cook time: 
5 minutes + 24 hours to 4 weeks marinating time
Total time: 
1 day 25 minutes
Yield: 
Makes about 3 cups of pickled vegetables
  • Is the ability to cook what made us human?

    Richard Wrangham, a professor at Harvard University and author of Catching Fire, studies the role of cooking in human evolution. "Once you start thinking about the importance of cooking -- its supply of energy, its strange distribution compared to natural foods -- it's bound to have affected our evolution hugely, our behavior, our society, our cognition, all sorts of features about us," he says.

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