3 Asian Pickles and Preserves to Add Zest to Any Meal

October 8, 2014

Asian pickles encompass a food category that both delight the senses and please the palate with their array of flavors from pungent, to sweet, to tart, to savory, and to spicy.  Karen Solomon's new cookbook appropriately titled, Asian Pickles, shares recipes with fail proof instructions to make these multi-dimensional dishes at home.  No matter if you are an avid preserver or adventurous home cook, these Asian pickles will add zest to any meal whether it be a classic roast chicken, simple vegetable stir fry or lamb vindaloo.

Green Mango Pickle
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
Time: 1 Day

1 large mango (about 14 ounces) 
1/4 cup mustard oil or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon chile powder
2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons asafetida
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

Wash, dry, and cut the mango into 1/2-inch cubes; do not peel it. You should have about 21/2 cups of fruit.

Combine the mustard oil, cumin, chile, fenugreek, and garlic in a medium skillet and cook over medium heat until the spices become fragrant and the garlic browns, about 4 minutes. Add the mango, stir to combine, and cook for an additional 3 minutes, until slightly soft.

Turn off the heat, and then add the salt, asafetida, turmeric, sugar, and vinegar. Combine thoroughly. Pack the pickle into glass or ceramic jars or containers with tight lids (avoid plastic, as it will retain this pickle’s color and strong perfume). This pickle can be eaten immediately, but it is better if you allow it to sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Refrigerated, this pickle will last for at least 4 months.

Sour Celery and Red Pepper
Makes about 3 cups
Time: About 45 Minutes

1 pound celery, trimmed, leaves removed
2 teaspoons peanut oil
8 ounces red bell peppers, cut into long, thin strips
Pinch of kosher salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1⁄2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1⁄2 cup distilled white vinegar
1⁄3 cup cool water
1 teaspoon black sesame oil

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough strings from the celery, then slice it at an angle, 3/4 inch thick. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the bell pepper and salt and sauté until the bell pepper softens and blackens in spots, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the bell pepper to the celery, along with the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, and sesame oil and stir well. Your pickle is ready to eat, but the flavors will become even better if you wait until the next day. To store, place in canning jars or containers with tight-fitting lids and evenly distribute the brine. (Don’t worry if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid at first; in a day’s time, the liquid level will rise significantly.) Cover and refrigerate; this pickle will keep for at least a month.

Onion and Cilantro Chutney
Makes about 1 pint
Time: 15 Minutes

6 ounces red onion (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

Bring a small pot of water to a boil while you slice the onion into ¼-inch-thick strips.

Blanch the onion by boiling it for 20 seconds, then immediately draining and running it under cold water; toss it with your hands to cool it down and stop the cooking. Drain thoroughly and transfer to a small mixing bowl along with the cilantro, salt, and lime juice.

In a small skillet, combine the oil with the cumin and let it toast, stirring constantly, until it turns medium brown and becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let it cool slightly and scrape cumin and oil into the bowl.

Toss completely and serve immediately. Cover and refrigerate any unused portion. This chutney will keep up to 3 days.

Reprinted with permission from Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2014 by Jennifer Martine

Image Sources: