When I first started this blog I wanted to cook the book from start to finish, in that order, but when I made my obsessive-compulsive lists, I realized that many of the recipes needed recipes within recipes. I’m glad I figured this out because most of the pickles are used in the Ssäm Bar Chapter. If I went ahead and made all the pickles now, instead of later, there would be 15 jars of pickles in the fridge.
Momofuku pickles are brined in water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt. After a big search for rice wine vinegar in which I ended up empty handed, I did a Google search and discovered that rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar can or can not be interchangeable. Confusing, isn’t it? According to Wikipedia, rice vinegar is made from fermented rice or rice wine, so the logical conclusion would be that rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar are one and the same.
Seeing as I couldn’t find rice wine vinegar anyway, I decided to substitute rice vinegar in the recipe. Not only did I substitute rice vinegar for rice wine vinegar, I decided to take it one step further and use brown rice vinegar. There wasn’t much of a colour difference between the rice vinegar and brown rice vinegar so I went with it.
The first four pickles I made were: beets, baby watermelon, watermelon rind, and apples. Most of the pickles are made in the same simple way: the fruit or vegetable is prepared and then covered with the brine. Then it’s basically, wait and enjoy.
The watermelon rind needed one extra step and was tenderized by a quick boil in the brine with star anise and ginger.
The pickles were ready to eat right away, but they taste best if you let them sit for a while so I left my pickles alone for two days before making a pickle plate to go along side some yaki onigiri.
The results? My favourite was the watermelon rind. Crunchy, sweet, sour, with a hint of the star anise, we finished the whole jar in one sitting! (It was a small jar.) The watermelon pickle was good as well, the sourness of the brine and the sweetness of the melon was mouth-puckeringly delicious.
The beets and granny smith apple were tasty as well, but they fell to the wayside after eating the watermelon pickles. Nonetheless, I am so in love with the colour of beets. I think I could eat beets based on their colour alone.
All in all, the pickles were fun, gorgeous to look at and tasty to boot. Maybe I should have gone ahead with the 15 jars of pickles!