Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pickles for your summer plate in just 20 minutes

Yummy homemade pickles in just 20 minutes — it’s true!
   I made Cucumbers with Wasabi and Rice Vinegar (click for the recipe) on the weekend, and was quite stunned at how terrific they were.
   They tasted like they’d been stewing away for months under perfect conditions.
   But all it took was cutting up some cucumbers, tossing them in a few easy-to-find ingredients and letting them sit for a few minutes.
   The pickles would make a crisp, cool side for any type of grilling creation this summer.
   The recipe calls for wasabi powder, which can be found in the Asian food section of some supermarkets.
   I was expecting the powder would create spicy heat, but it didn’t – there was more of a very slight horseradish effect instead.
   The recipe also calls for Japanese or Kirby cucumbers. Unable to find either, I used English cucumbers, which made a fine substitute.
   The recipe says to use an adjustable-blade slicer to thinly slice the cucumbers, but I was able to accomplish the task easily enough with a knife.
   There was a fun direction in the recipe: Squeeze handfuls of cucumber to release water. That’s exactly what I did – I picked up handfuls of slices and squeezed them in my palm to release excess liquid.
   Thinly-sliced cucumbers are tossed with salt and left to drain in a colander in the sink for 15 minutes, then rinsed under cold water and squeezed.
   Wasabi powder and water are stirred together and left to stand five minutes. Rice vinegar, sugar and soy sauce are added and whisked until the sugar has dissolved. The cucumbers are added and tossed well with the wasabi powder liquid.
   The cucumbers can be served right away, or chilled before serving up to one day.

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