Heat Things Up!

Farmers market season is here, hooray! With summer produce arriving on the scene, I always find myself with lots of veggies in the fridge. I use as much as I can fresh, but what to do with the rest? As of late I have become the queen of refrigerator pickles. I don’t want to mess with the proper canning process, it is rather intimidating. But quick pickles that sit in the fridge ready for consumption? Sign me up.

Spicy Pickles! (Photo from www.myrecipes.com)

Spicy Pickles! (Photo from http://www.myrecipes.com)

There are many recipes for quick pickles, and I have tried a lot of them. But none are as favored in my household as these very simple Sichuan Pickled Cucumbers. I saw the recipe on the Facebook wall of one of my friends, played with it a little, and voila, my own version was born. Spicy, crunchy and bursting with flavor, Sichuan Pickled Cucumbers will brighten up any meal. The level of spaciness is up to you, but I like a good amount of heat. I have used these as a snack, sandwich topper, side for Asian noodle dishes, and even as a cocktail garnish. And really, the recipe is easy as 1-2-3.

Sichuan Pickled Cucumbers (Photo from http://www.amazon.com)

Sichuan Pickled Cucumbers
2 tablespoons Szechuan peppercorns (I buy these from Penzey’s Spices)
5-8 dried red chilies, Thai or Chinese
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 inch piece of ginger, sliced
1.5 cups rice vinegar
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt
1 pound of baby or Persian cucumbers, sliced very thinly
1. Dry roast chilies and peppercorns, set aside.
2. Dissolve sugar in water over low heat to make simple syrup, add ginger, reduce to consistency of maple syrup. You can then remove ginger pieces. But I leave them in.
3. Add vinegar, toasted spices and salt off the heat. Taste for balance. Shouldn’t be too sweet or too salty. Add more salt or vinegar if necessary. Cool slightly.
4. Pour brine over cucumbers, let sit at room temperature for an hour. Portion into jars with tight fitting lids and refrigerate overnight.


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