Friday, October 7, 2016


It's not well known but the CC is crazy about pickles.

Broadly speaking, the world of pickles is divided into two kinds — acid-based and oil-based.

This has everything to do with botulism which is a bacterium that grows in the absence of oxygen. You need some technical chops to make oil-based pickles.

Acid-based pickles are vastly easier. Firstly, the acid prevents the growth of bacteria in the first place, and secondly, they're just tastier by the CC's taste buds. So life is easy for the CC.

The CC has grown up with pickles. He used to make them routinely as a kid with his grandmother and his great-grandmother (!) growing up. Looking back, it seems painfully clear that the grandmother wasn't that particularly interested in them. She continued for a few years after her mother died but that tapered pretty quickly. The family was even less interested which leaves the CC as the sole flag-bearer. And so it goes.

Except for the absolutely amazingly awesome green-peppercorn and lime pickles, the CC doesn't care for any of them. (They were mostly oil-based. Except the one that the CC likes. Hence the bias.)

The Indians and the Japanese have an vast tradition of pickling. (Other cultures obviously do too but the CC is just pointing this out as a compare-and-contrast.)

It's quite extraordinary. It was much more needed in the Japanese case because of the short growing season. It was completely unnecessary in the Indian case but the CC assumes they just loved the taste?

Fast forward to the modern world and the Japanese have an amazing device that allows you to make pickles without mistakes. It's just a plastic doo-hickey that presses down. It serves two purposes. It allows you to keep the vegetables below the water line, and if necessary, it presses down to allow vegetables to release their juices.

It works like a charm.

The absolutely simplest pickle involves just three ingredients — four, if you count water.

It's called 塩漬け (shiozuke - salted pickles.) The konbu and the salt combine to add a magical umami to the final product. Salt lowers the pH. They are acid-pickles in all but name.

The firmer the ingredient, the easier it is. It's pure magic with such things as the stalks of rainbow chard or watermelon rind.

Theoretically, the hard stalks of kale or broccoli should work but the brassica family simply doesn't taste that great. The CC has tried it. It basically sucks. Let it go.

These pickles are best eaten within three to seven days because the ingredients will continue to soften but you want that crunch!


rainbow chard stalks
4 tbsp salt
2 small cuts of konbu

boiling water


Cut and wash the stalks. In a clean sterile container, layer the konbu followed by the stalks. Top with the salt.

Pour boiling water all over it. Figure out a way to make sure that the ingredients stay below the water line.

Ready in three days.

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