Photo: Laura Edwards
With grey and dreary days of January and more to come in February it isn’t just comfort food I crave. Colour, vibrancy and freshness is what I look for in my dishes. My first trip to Kyoto a couple of years ago I experienced a rainbow array of pickled vegetables. They’re ubiquitous in Japan. At Nishiki market in Kyoto you’ll spot massive pick and mix barrels of daikon, aubergine, cucumbers, ginger and all sorts, many of them pickled in sake lees. This simpler version creates a stunning crunchy pickle salad, to be served with some steamed rice and slices of roast meat or just as you would a side salad. The vegetable options are here as guidance, so get creative.
Preparation time 15 minutes
Makes 1 litre of pickling liquor, pickles about 1 kg at one go
200g caster sugar
60 g salt
500 ml water from a just boiled kettle
300 ml rice vinegar
extra salt, for the cucumber
½ head romanesco or cauliflower
1 small cucumber
100g baby pak choi
1 red onion, peeled and quartered
100g baby turnips
200g multi-coloured chantenay carrots
Place the sugar and sugar in a pan and pour the hot water over the top. Stir to dissolve all the sugar and salt. Once dissolved, add the rice vinegar. Set aside. You can use this over and over again
For the romanesco:
Divide into small bite-sized florets and place in the pickle liquor. This one tastes best after two or three days.
For the okra:
If eating the okra within a few hours, blanch in a pan of boiling water for one minute.
Run under cold water. Pat dry and add to the pickle liquor. If eating the next day, place directly into the pickle.
For the cucumber:
Slice the cucumber into ½ cm rounds. Place in a colander and sprinkle with plenty of salt. Leave for about 1 hour. Rinse and pat dry before adding to the pickle liquor.
For the bok choy:
Separate the leaves from the stem and place in the pickle for just 30 minutes before serving.
For the eggs:
Place the eggs in a pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and time 6 minutes from boiling. Run under cold water. Peel the shell off once cool and add to the pickle liquor. These taste best after 1 day.
For the red onions:
Separate the leaves from the onions and place in the pickle liquor.
For the baby turnips:
Halve the turnips and place in the pickle. These taste best after 2 or three days.
For the carrots:
Place whole directly into the pickle liquor. These taste best after 2 or three days.