Blame it on my sour tooth, but I can’t resist pickles. I eat at Overseas Restaurant because I love their vegetable pickles, the ones they put on the table as soon as you sit down instead of the usual peanuts. I don’t know if they still serve that because they didn’t have it the last time I went there for lunch.
And when I enquired, the waitress said they don’t serve vegetable pickles…ever! But the only reason I was there for lunch was because my friend had dinner there the night before, and had the pickles… and it got me craving for pickles…so don’t tell me they never had it… and then they won’t let us change our tables even though there was a strong smell of turpentine and paint…the waitress said she doesn’t smell it.
Already pickle-deprived, and now told I (and the rest of us on the table) were now imagining the strong nauseating paint fumes, it was just too much trouble arguing with waitresses, and so we left. Yeah, so I like my pickles!
New Formosa Restaurant in SS2, Petaling Jaya also has good vegetable pickles. And there is a mixed rice stall in the Asia coffee shop in Senawang, outside Seremban (with the famous curry laksa stall) that also serves delicious vegetable pickles. I asked for a small plate, and ended up leaving the shop with a bottle.
The pickled cucumbers in Daily Grind in Bangsar Village, KL is also yummy. It comes in the burger, and they graciously obliged with a bowl of pickles when I asked for extras. I don’t remember if they put it on the bill, but I am going back there for the pickles… ah, I mean burger… with extra pickles, of course.
When I reviewed David Chang’s book Momofuku, which he wrote with Peter Meeham, I thought there’d be the usual long winded chef’s recipes that’s impossible to replicate. Everything is done from scratch in Momofuku, and there are recipes that require mastery of specialised techniques, but there are recipes that are not so daunting such as the chicken liver terrine and pickles.
I made Chang’s banh mi, Vietnamese sandwiches, with chicken liver terrine, daikon and carrot pickles, coriander and Kewpie mayonnaise. I didn’t make the ham terrine because I am still figuring the pork cuts to use for that recipe – what do you call pork shoulder in Cantonese?
Anyway, I love the pickles in this sandwich. The carrot and daikon have to be julienned right (3 in X 3/16 inch) – good luck figuring out 3/16 inches. Try using a mandoline’s middle blade instead, as suggested by Chang.
And there is also a Grilled Lemongrass Pork Sausage Ssam recipe, also featuring this julienned carrot and daikon pickles with fish sauce vinaigrette. I also cut some carrots, daikon and cucumber into bigger pieces to pickles using Chang’s pickling brine recipe.
Unfortunately I have to wait a week for the pickles to mature before I can taste them. If you don’t have time, do the short cut method – sprinkle a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of sugar for every cup-ful of vegetables, toss and let it sit for as long as you can spare – this recipe is also from Momofuku.
MASTER RECIPE FOR VINEGAR PICKLES (from Momofuku)
1 cup water, piping hot
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
vegetables or fruit, prepared as indicated
Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Pack the prepared vegetables into a quart container. Pour the brine over the vegetables, cover and refrigerate. You can eat the pickles immediately, but they will taste better after they have had time to sit – 3 to 4 days at a minimum, a week for optimum flavours. Most of these pickles will keep for at least a month.