Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The first time I had these irresistible pickled cucumbers was at a Taiwanese dumpling restaurant in the San Gabriel Valley area of L.A. This Taiwanese restaurant offers all kinds of dumplings and noodles, they also have many small plates for you to choose from, to go with your dumplings and noodles. Some examples of the small plates items are soy sauce marinated fried Tofu, pickled cabbage, seaweed salad, jelly fish salad (another of my favorites too), and herbs marinated pig ears, etc. The pig ears are for real, I’m not trying to mess with your minds here. Chinese (or most Chinese) eat every single part of an animal so nothing goes to waste! These pickled cucumbers were one of the choices from the long list of small plates items and I always get them every time when I dine there.
Since I moved away from that area long ago, I've been making my own pickled cucumbers. They are the best appetizer/small plates item before a meal. These Chili and Garlic Pickled Baby Cucumbers are so refreshing. They really can increase your appetite. Isn't what an appetizer supposed to do? To get your appetite up instead of filling you up before the main course? Plus, they are super simple to make. Instead of regular cucumber, I love to use the baby ones. They are super tender and crunchy. Best of all, you can eat the whole thing, skin, seeds and all (can’t you tell I’m a Chinese?)! You don’t have to peel the skin nor scrape the seeds inside as in regular cucumbers. In other words, perfect for time saving and lazy people, like me.
Here’s what I did (see pictorial below).
1) Wash, drain and pat dry the cucumber with paper towel. Cut them in half so they are in 2-inch length.
2) Split them in half again into “half circles”
3) Cut them into 1/2-by-1/2-by 2-inch chunks by cutting the “half circles” in half again. (Gees, I’m so glad I took pictures of the process.)
4) In a medium mixing bowl, all the rice vinegar in the water.
5) Add the garlic, sugar, salt, toasted sesame oil
6) Last but not least, the Sambal chili sauce and stir until all sugar dissolved.
7) I like to line the cucumbers chunks into the non-reactive (glass) pickling jars neatly so I can fit as many as I could.
8) Fill the jars with the pickling liquid until the cucumbers are completely submerge in the liquid. If there’s any garlic or chili sitting on the bottom of the pickling liquid, add those into the jars too (don’t waste anything!) Close the lid and place the jars in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving, preferably overnight. Your patient will be rewarded!
Simple enough, right? They totally are. They are super crunchy, tangy, slightly sweet with a hint of spiciness. The hint of toasted sesame oil adds a little more savory flavor into this refreshing treat. If you like it more spicy, feel free to add a little more chili sauce. Just keep in mind the flavor will intensify the longer they are pickled, so, don’t add too much during the tasting. Stay cool... just like the cucumbers and enjoy the recipe. (sorry I can’t help the cheesy closing line!)
Chili and Garlic Pickled Baby Cucumber:
2 cups of water
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoon Sambal Chili sauce
2 pounds baby cucumber
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together water, garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame and chili sauce until sugar completely dissolved. Cut cucumber into 1/2 by 1/2 by 2-inch length chucks.
Line the cucumber chucks in non-reactive pickling jars and fill the jars with the pickling liquid until all cucumbers are covered. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving, preferably over night. Enjoy.
*since there's acid (vinegar) in the pickling liquid, please do not use plastic containers as pickling jars.