This post is sort of a continuation of my last one, which should probably be called "Too Hot to Cook!"
I watch too many cooking shows. Iron Chef, Top Chef, America's next whatever (I'm convinced there are at least three Gordon Ramsay clones because no one person could possibly do as much as he does), Chopped—I'm there, collecting ideas.
Recently I've noticed that when the eager chef-testants describe the dishes they are presenting, they often say, "then I made a quick pickle for some brightness" or something like that.
Quick pickle? For some reason I had it in my head that pickling was a long and tedious process that involved boiling a lot of stuff and putting it in jars that had to be sterile (more boiling). Not for me! Certainly not in the middle of a hot summer, which unfortunately is when all the good stuff is ripe for pickling.
But I have now proven myself wrong. There are plenty of quick-pickle recipes. The beauty of them is, you can use more or less whatever vegetables you have on hand, as long as you cut them into fairly small pieces so the dressing can penetrate and work its magic.
ASIAN QUICK PICKLE
½ cup rice vinegar (you can substitute white vinegar)
2 Tblsp. sesame oil
2 Tblsp. soy sauce1 Tblsp. light brown sugar
1 Tblsp. minced fresh ginger
1 Tblsp. Thai fish sauce
Whisk the ingredients together in a medium saucepan and bring it to a boil. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then add your vegetables and toss. Let cool, then cover and let stand at room temperature. Taste before serving and add salt if you think the dish needs it.
I had a lovely batch of organic radishes from our local farmers market, and I liked the contrast of the red skin and white interior, so I made matchsticks of those. Then I also made matchsticks of some pretty yellow carrots (note that the pieces were all roughly the same size). I had some sugar snap peas as well and thought the green might be a nice contrast, so I sliced them into narrow strips and added them.
You can use almost any vegetable you like. Thin slices of bell pepper (all and any colors) would work well. Cucumbers. Zucchini. (Not mushrooms, though—they'd go slimy fast.) And of course, you can add thinly sliced cabbage (add that last), to make it a more traditional slaw.
And all those chef-testants are right: a side dish like this adds sharpness and crunch to your meal. It's a nice change from traditional cole slaw for an outdoor picnic.