Fresh cucumber ‘kimchee’

IMG_9291I know that kimchee comes in many flavours, and chinese cabbage is not a pre-requisite, but, lovely though this pickle is, I suspect if you presented it to a die hard, Korean, pickle fan they may snicker lightly. It’s a fridge pickle really, doesn’t have time to ferment as a true kimchee should, and it doesn’t use the proper korean dried chilli peppers. But, whatever, it’s a cracker of a fresh, zingy, lightly chillied relish.

Give it a go, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

I have only very slightly adapted this recipe, and the real credit needs to go to Australian House and Garden magazine, of all places.

Ingredients

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  • 4 or 5 small lebanese cucumbers
  • 1/4 cup medium grain sea salt
  • 4 stalks of kale (I used a mix of homegrown kale and mustard greens, and I prefer there to be more cucumber than greens)

Pickling mix

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • fresh chillies to your taste – we used about 3 hot and one milder, but hey, chilli is such a subjective thing.
  • 2 tablespoons purreed/grated ginger
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon korean gochujang chilli paste (or you could use chilli powder if you really can’t find it)

First, peel and cut the cucumbers into quarters and slice thinly – about coin wide works well. Lay them in a colander and work the salt in. Leave for at least 30 minutes.IMG_9286

Strip the stalks from the kale and slice thinly. I like to mix them in with the salting cucumbers for the last 5 minutes.IMG_9289

Bring to the boil all the remaining ingredients, stirring, simmer for a minute or two then allow to cool.IMG_9284

Rinse the veggies well under running water until the saltiness is much reduced. They’ll have reduced in volume as the water has been drawn from them. Drain well.

Pack into a container and pour over the pickling liquid, pressing down to submerge fully.IMG_9290 Leave at least overnight before using. I like to give it a bit of a turn whenever I take some out. Keeps in the fridge for a week or two.

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Tsukemono : the beautiful art of Japanese pickles

I just adore the range of pickled veg I’ve had in Japan. Being a fan of preserving and pickling generally, I really appreciate the care and thought behind even a tiny plate of 2 or 3 varieties presented with a bowl of rice. Pickles are an important part of Japanese cuisine, and particularly of the rice element of a keiseki meal, also. ???????????????????????????????

They range from the simple, lightly vinegared cucumber slices, as above, and the pink ginger familiar from our sushi trays, the wonderfully sour umeboshi, to elaborate, delicately fragrant varieties and even – to my delight – pickled blossom. Read more….

Nishiki Market, Kyoto

nishikiflagI love a market. Especially a food market. When visiting another country, it’s a great way to get a handle on the local cuisine; visiting the place where everyone buys their everyday foods. Chatting to the stall holders, checking out the purchasers. Sometimes though, when on holiday, it can be a slight source of disappointment if with a particularly good market, you can’t try much, having no facilities to cook the lovely stuff you see.

Nishiki Market gets around this by selling cooked food as well as raw, and by being terribly generous with it’s free samples. Many stalls had Read More

Miso with that?

So. Been away a while – please forgive the silence. Our jaunt in Japan – sadly now becoming a distant memory – got rather in the way of blog writing. I’m working on a review of our foodie exploits; and to whet your appetite, here’s some miso encrusted radishes in a stall full of miso encrusted whatnots:IMG_7911Well, I hope it’s miso, anyway.

 

Quick Fridge Beetroot Pickle

That beetroot glut I mentioned recently – though scarred by harsh, acidic pickles from my youth, I had a balsamic vinegar pickled onion recently and it was a revelation. Sweet, rich, and a world away from the battery acid globes of yesteryear, I resolved on the spot to have a go at my own.

In the absence of teeny tiny onions at the markets, I figured beetroot would respond equally well.

Having boiled up a few both trad red and fancy new gold varieties for a different recipe, I had a go at 2 different pickles. One, a trad ‘proper’ pickle and the other a quick refrigerator one. Here’s the first: Continue reading

Souvenier Cabbage

One of the things I love the most about travelling around the state is visiting the many farm shops that line the highways. Whether they be fully fledged veg stalls the size of small supermarkets (the one outside Bellingen has it’s own petrol pumps so as to maximise drop bys), to a cardboard sign outside someone’s house, flogging excess garden produce, I love them all.

So it was no surprise to Mr C that our trip back from Bellingen recently took hours longer than it should have, mainly because I was slowly filling the back seat of the car with locally grown produce.

Any visit to the banana coast of course cannot be complete without a stash of beautiful yellow ‘nanas. But this time my eye was also caught by pineapples (not that local as they almost certainly came from Queensland, but hey! it was closer than it would have been….) – two different varieties – and many different varieties of avocado. Or snot pears, as my inlaws so charmingly describe them. Peppers, aubergines, nuts (local pecans), onions…into my basket they went. It doesn’t have to be exotic, as long as there’s the whiff of just-picked about it.???????????????????????????????

So it was that we reached Gladstone, NSW, a tiny place north of Kempsey just off the Pacific Highway. Really, there’s not a lot there. But what there is, is a small shop run by a lovely lady who sells her own produce from her farm, supplemented by her own chutneys and jams. IMG_6095She’d just picked a small box of broad beans and was anxious to show me how to pod them – and was delighted when I told her I usually grow my own; though hadn’t had the space this year. We bought a half kilo (I do get bored of double podding after a half kilo or so), some of her chilli mustard pickles, and half a freshly caught cabbage. We ate the broad beans in a simple pasta/olive oil & herbs combo with lots of parmesan that night; but what to do with that lovely cabbage?

Having BBQ pork belly in mind for dinner this week I immediately thought of a semi pickled cabbage accompaniment to cut through some of the fattiness. So it was only one small step beyond that to actually preserving my lovely cabbage for future enjoyment…

Pickled White Cabbage

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 large, firm headed white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 litre cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon each black peppercorns, fennel seeds and coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons each salt, sugar
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 large jars, sterilised. You’ll need to judge how many/what size according to the size of your cabbage.

Finely shred the carrot and cabbage. As this was a ‘homegrown’ cabbage, I washed the shreds. Even though the leaves of the cabbage were fairly close-knit, there was a bit of grit in between the leaves.

Place all the other ingredients in a non stick or stainless steel pan, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes to infuse flavours. ???????????????????????????????Meanwhile, carefully layer the carrot and cabbage into the jars, squashing them down as much as possible. When full, pour over the spiced vinegar. Leave for a few minutes for the vegetables to soften a little; you’ll find they will squash down further at this point and you can cram in even more. Really push them down, so as to leave as few airpockets as possible. Top with more vinegar if needed until all the vegetables are submerged.???????????????????????????????

Seal carefully and refrigerate. You’ll need to leave this for at least a week or two for the vinegar to mellow.???????????????????????????????

Spring has Sprung

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It’s the first day of Spring, here in the Southern Hemisphere, and I picked my first peas today.

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Only two pods were ready, but heck! it’s the symbolism that counts! We ate them in a salad of beetroot, beet tops, rocket, chives and spinach, all plucked from the garden today. Alongside were scrambled eggs from the chickens next door.IMG_5881

Urban paradise.