Quick fixes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 June, 2011, 12:00am


Pickled vegetables are great at whetting the appetite in the summer, when we tend not to be as hungry because of the heat and humidity. I prefer quick pickles - they don't require much fermenting or ageing, and so are ready within a few days (or even less) of being prepared.

Stuffed cucumber kimchi

You can eat these the same day they're made, although they'll be even better one or two days later. Buy the long, thin Japanese cucumbers because their seeds and skin are thinner and more tender than those of the waxy English cucumbers. Stuffing the filling into the cucumber makes for a more attractive presentation but if you don't want to bother with that part, halve the cucumbers lengthwise, then cut them on the diagonal into 1cm-wide pieces. After salting and rinsing the cucumber, combine all the seasoning ingredients, then mix them with the cucumber pieces.

300 grams Japanese cucumbers

About 20 grams fine sea salt

15 grams Korean salted shrimp, drained

25 grams spring onions, minced

15 grams garlic, minced

5 grams ginger, peeled and minced

15 grams gochugaru (red pepper flakes)

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tsp fine sea salt

A 6cm piece of a medium-size carrot, peeled and julienned

Rinse the cucumbers thoroughly then cut them in half so each forms two short pieces. Use a paring knife to cut two slits lengthwise (at 90-degree angles) all the way through each cucumber, but leaving both ends intact. Put the cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle with 20 grams of salt and mix with your hands. Leave for a few hours or until the cucumber is soft, mixing occasionally. Rinse the cucumber with cool running water until most of the salt is rinsed off. Pat dry with paper towels

Finely mince the salted shrimp then mix them in a bowl with the spring onion, garlic, ginger, gochugaru, granulated sugar, one teaspoon of salt and the carrot. Stuff this mixture into the slits of the cucumber then pack the pieces into a jar or an airtight container. Cover the container and refrigerate for at least eight hours. They keep for up to five days.

Japanese cabbage pickle

This recipe comes from food stylist Tomoko Inamura. It makes a simply flavoured but refreshing pickle that can be eaten almost immediately.

250 grams head cabbage (about 1/4 of a cabbage)

1 Japanese cucumber, halved lengthwise, then cut on the diagonal into thin slices

1-2 tsp fine sea salt

2 edible chrysanthemums

Julienned fresh ginger or finely grated yuzu peel, optional

Pick the petals from the chrysanthemum. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add the petals and boil until translucent. Drain and rinse, then soak the petals in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and rinse again before patting them dry with paper towels.

Tear the cabbage into pieces by hand. Put the cabbage, cucumber, chrysanthemum petals, salt and ginger or yuzu (if using) into a Japanese pickle jar (or a glass or ceramic container) and mix to combine.

Pound the ingredients gently to bruise them and leave for at least 30 minutes before eating.

Fresh white radish kimchi

For this recipe, I used whole, young white radishes, which were about 6cm in length and had long green stems intact. You can also use mature white radish (also called loh bok or daikon), which should be cut into large cubes (about 2cm square).

500 grams whole young white radishes (or the same amount of white radish cubes)

About 20 grams fine sea salt

3-4 garlic cloves

1.5cm piece of ginger

1 jalapeno chilli pepper

3 spring onions

For the brine:

15 grams fine sea salt

15 grams granulated sugar

1 litre water

Rinse the radishes thoroughly, taking care that the stems are clean. Trim off the roots and any fine hairs from the radish. If using mature radish, peel it and cut it into 2cm cubes.

Put the radish in a large bowl, sprinkle with 15 grams of salt and leave for about eight hours (or about three hours, if using radish cubes). Mix frequently so the radish is evenly salted. The radish should be somewhat pliable; if needed, leave to salt for a few more hours. Rinse thoroughly.

Bring the water to the boil and stir in the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly while preparing the seasonings. Thinly slice the garlic. Peel the ginger then cut into fine julienne. Cut the jalapeno in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and core and cut the pepper into thin pieces. Cut the spring onion into 3cm-long pieces.

Pack the radishes into a jar, layering with the garlic, ginger, spring onion and jalapeno (don't use all of it if you don't like spice). Pour the brine into the jar so it covers all the ingredients; there should be about 3cm of space at the top of the jar. Pour some water into a bag (use the type used to pack vegetables at supermarkets) and tie the top securely, then put it in the jar so it weighs down the radish and keeps it submerged in the brine. Leave it at room temperature for three days. Remove the bag of water, seal the container and refrigerate.

The pickles taste best when well chilled.