Chinese Sweet & Spicy Pickles

This is a really easy and quick recipe for a delicious mixed pickles dish that even your kids will love. The first time I made these for Radical Family Farms, their kids devoured them. Then I made a jar for their daughter on her birthday and again, they were gone in minutes. They are crunchy, sweet, slightly spicy and can be ready to eat in just a few hours. I like to eat them with Japanese Curry Rice or as a snack with a cold beer on a hot summer afternoon. You can use a variety of different vegetables such as daikon, jicama, pearl onions, sliced garlic, etc. In fact, daikon is my husbands favorite! In this recipe I make it with cucumbers, carrots & red onion. If spicy is not your thing, you can easily omit the chili.

Chinese Sweet & Spicy Pickles

makes 1 jar

1 Cucumber, cut into batons- Any kind of cucumber works but my preference is Japanese or Persian. If you use a standard cucumber, be sure to peel and de-seed first.

1 medium Carrot, cut into batons- unpeeled is fine

1/4 Red Onion, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks

1-2 dried Chili Peppers (optional), chopped with or without seeds

1 cup Rice Vinegar, white or apple cider vinegar could work but will drastically change the flavor. White is too sharp and apple cider is too fruity (duh) for me personally.

2/3-1/2 cup Sugar, depending on your sweet tooth

1/4 Water

First heat up your rice vinegar and water on the stove. When it boils quickly turn it down to a simmer, pour in the sugar and continue simmering until the sugar dissolves completely. Immediately take it off the heat and allow it to cool to at least room temperature. You can cool it fastest by pouring it into a glass bowl uncovered.

While the liquid is cooling, chop your cucumber and let it sweat by salting the pieces lightly with about 1t of sea salt and massaging it in. Let sit for up to 30 minutes. 10 is fine if you’re in a hurry.

Next chop the rest of your veg and your chilies.

When the cucumbers are done sweating, pour out the liquid that pooled at the bottom of the bowl and wipe some of the excess salt off.

Put all your chopped vegetables and chilies into the jar and then pour the cooled liquid over it. Close it up and put it into the fridge overnight or for at least a couple hours.

You’ll notice the veggie sticks will occasionally float to the the top. That’s ok. Just tilt the jar upside down every once in a while to re-coat the top end that’s sticking up.

Keep in the fridge for up to a week and use them as accents to your main meals. I’ve even julienned everything finely and made them into a coleslaw or as a filling alongside grilled char siu pork for banh mi.


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