Jar full of pickles

Pickles – who doesn’t love pickles? I’ve been a pickle fan ever since I was a kid. My pickles of choice back then were GeeVee sweet & sour pickles. I would consume these by the jarful and even drink the juice. Since then I have evolved in my taste for a preference for good dill pickles and am constantly on a search for the perfect dills.

More recently I have started to make my own and now have become something of a pickling queen.  What began with classic dill-style cucumbers has now developed to pickling just about everything – no vegetable is exempt.

There’s always a jar of some sort of pickles in my fridge. They’re a delicious addition to salads and smoked or raw fish and are quick and easy to make.  Even better, they can be ready to eat in just half an hour. I first tried my hand at finely sliced radishes and then moved on to baby onions and button mushrooms and fennel. Inspiration hit me when I encountered pickled grapes served with pate; they were a revelation and I thought I could easily make them.  I now have a jar in my fridge which is always on the go. They’re delicious and hard to resist popping into your mouth. More recently I have pickled baby beetroot, finely sliced on a mandolin, these too are ready in no time.

The great thing about pickling your own vegetables is that you can make up just one jar at a time and you don’t need to do it days in advance – just an hour before hand is fine. The other day I bought some lovely cherries with the idea of pickling them. Alas, before I could decide on an appropriate flavour profile I ate my way through all the cherries.

Today I bought a lovely piece of sashimi quality tuna and decided that it would go well with some pickled radish, fennel and beetroot.  On my bench now are two jars:  one with the fennel and radish, the other with beetroot.  Now I just have to wait until it’s time to slice the tuna and serve.   Continue reading Jar full of pickles

Galangal poached salmon with pickled beetroot

I saw some lovely fresh salmon the other day and couldn’t resist – despite not knowing what to do with it.  A lot of the time the fish up here looks a bit tired and uninspiring, so when I see something that catches my eye, I buy it.  These pieces looked good enough to eat raw.

My usual salmon dish is quickly grilled and drizzled with a ponzu style dressing and  served with soba noodles, finely sliced radish, cucumber, spring onion, green chilli and fresh coriander.  It’s one of those dishes that you can whip up in no time.  A good stand-by, but one I was sick of.

I’ve been playing around with pickling: radishes, cucumbers, grapes (!) and recently, thinly sliced beetroot.  I wanted to do something with some pickled beetroot and had some radishes in the fridge that needed to be used. I envisaged the pickles as being more ‘candied’ than vinegary.  Beyond that I had no idea of what to do with the fish.  And I was loathe to purchase any more ingredients.  We’re about to move and I need to get through as much fridge produce as possible.

I also had a nice fresh piece of galangal (I’ve become quite a fan of this lemony, ginger-like root) and some coriander that was a bit wilted but had good roots so I decided to make a stock: galangal, coriander roots, ginger, peppercorns, kaffir lime leaves and a bit of salt went into the pan.  When it had come to the boil I added a splash of fish sauce and squeezed in half a lime, put the fish in, brought it back to the boil, switched it off, put the lid on and let it sit for 10 minutes.  It’s as easy as that.  If I’d had any lemongrass, that would have gone in too.

For the pickles I finely sliced a radish, small beetroot, largish shallot and a long green chilli.  The pickling liquid was cider vinegar, sugar, salt and water. Easy peasy.

To assemble I shredded a baby cos (because it needed eating), flaked the poached salmon and added the pickled shallots, chilli, radish and beetroot and tossed it all together with chopped coriander and mint, a dash of fish sauce and squeeze of lime juice.  Garnished with some shredded lime leaves.  Success.  It was a great combination – not just of flavours but also of textures.  Sadly it didn’t look too pretty (for some reason I can’t do pretty) but it sure tasted good.

I’m sure if I had time to think and shop I could do justice to these ingredients and create a more spectacular dish.  But given that it was a weeknight and I was cooking from my fridge, I think I did pretty well.