From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I love crisp pickles and the storage fridge in our garage almost always holds a quart or two of my favorite quick-fix dills. Kirby cucumbers were available at all the markets this weekend, so my project for the morning was to replenish our stash while the cucumbers were plentiful. For as much as I love pickles, I only make them when special varieties of cucumbers are available. In theory, pickles can be made with any cucumber, but I prefer to use varieties specifically developed for brining because their skins are less bitter and they contain fewer seeds. It's a "princess and the pea" thing. While I was making the dills, I also put together a quick Japanese pickle that I use as a relish for chicken or turkey burgers. Pickles are common throughout Asia and the gentle heat of this wasabi flavored pickle is especially popular in Japan. The pickle is mildly hot and more thinly sliced than most Western-Style pickles. Because I planned to use them as a crisp substitute for relish, I used a mandoline to slice mine paper thin. These pickles are extraordinarily easy to make and they are delicious addition to meals that center on grilled meat. The wasabi powder can be found in any Asian grocery and it is also available online. The good news is that once you have it it will last forever. This recipe is really simple but it will produce a wonderfully crisp and delicious pickle. Try to use the pickles within a day of making them. They lose color if they sit for too long a time. That caveat aside, I hope you will give the recipe a try. Here's how the pickles are made.
Japanese Cucumber Pickles...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Maggie Ruggiero and Gourmet Magazine
1 pound Japanese or Kirby cucumbers (about 5)
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
1) Very thinly slice cucumbers crosswise with slicer; toss with 1 teaspoon salt and drain in a colander 15 minutes. Rinse cucumbers under cold water, then squeeze handfuls to remove excess water; pat dry.
2) Stir together wasabi powder and water in a bowl and let stand 5 minutes. Add vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Add cucumbers and toss well. Yield: 6 servings.
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