I tend to have a sixth sense when it comes to fussy eaters.
When someone tells me that, for instance, they don’t like seafood, their plight as an eater is automatically established. I know that the fussiness is strong in this one. This not a fact, just a musing of mine own experiences. And I say that to say, it also goes in the reverse with people offering what they DO like. For example if someone says they do like seafood, I know that their palettes tend to operate differently.
So when someone says they like seafood, I’ll let the seafood chit-chat simmer until I can broach the subjects of anchovies. If they like said anchovies, I know I can usually push my toe just slightly deeper into their ocean. Anchovies tend to be gateways for salty and briny items like olives and pickled nonsense.
These people are people I know I will get on with.
And so my sixth sense is triggered via food talk because knowing the gateways of what somebody does and doesn’t like then highlights my personal culinary do’s and don’ts with this person. These people eat and enjoy pickles. These are my people. If you are these people also, continue reading.
I’ve read a lot of literature around the complexities and anticipation of pickles, the complications of the jar sterilisation, and how long to ferment etc. But to be honest, what’s a girl got to do just to have a sharp, sour crunch in a recipe without the hassle? Am I asking for the moon?
No. I’m not. So I do pickles this way – which is basically chopping some ingredients, dousing it in an equal mix of sugar and salt, covering them in a vinegar, and letting them sit in the fridge for a few hours. That’s it. As long as I eat them within a week, we’re all good.
I have also included a quick, very quick and simplified, recipe for kimchi. Which is not a kimchi at all, but more like a simple step-sister. I know it’s not for everybody. If you say ‘fermented cabbage’ to anybody who is not familiar with kimchi, you’re automatically getting a no thanks.
It’s very Modern Food Blogger of me to announce my love of kimchi because the two kind of go together these days. It was like food blogging and kale/avocado/chia seeds a few years ago, these things just happen in cycles, for shame. But genuinely – kimchi is in constant rotation in my fridge.
I won’t give you a lesson on kimchi purely because I am not qualified to be the teacher, and you can find my suggestion for an authentic alternative here. I know nothing about it. I don’t even use a traditional method. I don’t even use Chinese cabbage like you’re supposed to (still trying to be a Kitchen Cowboy) but what you can trust here is that if you like your food super salty, super spicy and super umami – kimchi is something you will carry with you forevermore.
For the Quick Kimchi
1 clove garlic
A thumb size piece of fresh ginger
1/2 tbs chilli flakes
1/4 tbs chilli powder
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 head cabbage
3 – 4 radishes
- In a large (very large) bowl, grate the garlic and ginger. Add the chilli flakes and powder, the fish sauce, vinegar, and salt, and stir everything together to create a scant but powerful sauce.
- Shred the cabbage into a mixture of thin strips and chunks as wide as the length of your thumb and add to the bowl. Finely, finely, finely slice the radishes (I like to use a mandolin) and grate the carrot to short confetti. Add them to the bowl too.
- Now using your hands, rustle everything together. Really get in there. Squeeze the vegetables tightly with your hands, scrunching them up, massaging them into the sauce, coating every slither of vegetable. They will shrink and will produce more watery juice in the bowl – this is a good thing.
- After you’ve massaged the vegetables, do it again because it feels great, and when you can’t do it anymore, taste it. It should taste funky, tangy, fizzy, spicy, salty, sour… everything a good ferment should be. Taste to see if you want more spice, more vinegar, more salt, and add according to your preference.
- Store the kimchi in a Tupperware box with a tight lid. You can eat it straight away or keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Pickled Cucumbers
1 large cucumber or 3 – 4 mini ones
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Enough apple cider vinegar to cover
- Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can (I like to use a mandolin) and then put the slices in a bowl that you can cover, or a Tupperware box that comes with a tight lid.
- Scatter over the salt and sugar and using your hands, gently massage them into the slices.
- Cover the slices with the apple cider vinegar, stir them about with a fork, cover and fridge. You can technically eat these straight away, but I like to leave them overnight. They will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Mine rarely last that long.
For the Pink Pickled Onions
1 red onion
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Enough red wine vinegar to cover
- Peel and finely sliced the red onion into strips and place in a bowl that you can cover, or a Tupperware box with a tight lid.
- Scatter over the sugar and salt and toss the slices in the bowl using a fork.
- Cover the onion with the red wine vinegar, stir about with the fork, cover and fridge. You won’t really feel a benefit from eating them right away so I’d definitely advise to leave them overnight or 6 hours minimum and in this time, they will turn an aggressively bright and gorgeous pink. They will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
For the Pickled Lemons
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Enough white wine vinegar to cover
- Cut the whole lemon (ends and all) into quarters lengthways so that you have four thick disks of lemon. Now cut these into small, finger nail sized chunks, finding and discarding any pips you encounter along the way. I do this by halving the slices lengthways and then cutting into chunks sideways. It’s better to do this on a board because the lemon will release a lot of juice and we want to keep that for the brine, if we can.
- Place the little lemon chunks in a bowl that you can cover, or a Tupperware box with a tight lid. Use your knife to scrape any lemon juice from your board into your bowl or box too.
- Scatter over the salt and sugar and using a fork, stir so that the lemons get covered in the mix.
- Cover the lemons with the white wine vinegar, stir, cover and fridge. You want the lemons to sit overnight or 6 hours minimum so that the skins have time to soften in the pickling liquid. They will keep in the fridge for up to a week.