Saturday, May 30, 2009

Pink Radish Pickles: Balance your palate

For mom who figured out how to make something pink to please Daughter #1 and for Daughter #1 for being so amazed at pink pickles.

I had the opportunity to spend 3 years of my married life living in Seoul, Korea, my birthplace. I had Daughter #2 there, lived there, conceived Son there and all in all adjusted and enjoyed my time in Korea. It was a great experience and one that taught me a lot about food and life.

While in Korea, I was pregnant with two of my children - and the ONE thing I COULD NOT STAND....Korean food. I could not take the smell, the thought - everything about it just wanted to make me sick. We lived in a very Korean restaurant heavy neighborhood and all I did was think about moving out of there. I wanted anything not Korean, burgers, chili fries, burritos, tacos, ribs, corn on the cob, sandwiches - that was my craving. Husband took pity on me and escorted Daughter #1 and me to various restaurants, expensive and cheap to help me survive the pregnancy of hating Korean food.

I remember at the time, being both amused and bemused at the frequency of "pickles" at these non-Korean restaurants. A fine Italian restaurant? Have a bowl of pickles in the middle. Pizza joint - definitely need pickles at the table. Burger? Extra pickles with your fries please. I knew that for many Koreans, pickles were in essence, "replacing" their traditional kimchee, and the pickles helped these non-Korean, Western "greasier" dishes go down. Husband and Daughter always gobbled them up - I just looked at them, appalled that they needed pickles to eat anything. The food tasted really good - without pickles.

But essentially, pickles are good for the whole "balance" of a western meal. Many western dishes leave out acid, essential for helping to cut the richness of many foods and brightening the flavors. (There is nothing acidic on a pizza for example.) Pickles bring in the acid, brighten up the flavors, and balance the flavors of a meal. Clearly daughters and husband intuitively understand this notion, because if there is something non Korean on the table, they either ask for pickles or kimchee.

I've taken to making these VERY simple radish pickles - as they are so beautiful and wonderfully refreshing. They are somewhat Korean in their smell - only because they have a distinct order that comes from pickling radishes. They are a great addition to any table, and are so easy to make that you'll always want to have a supply on hand. They are a beautiful color (as Daughter says - Pink PICKLES mom) and are fun to eat.

The only thing slightly tricky about this is the scoring of the radishes - but if you can do that, the rest is a piece of cake.

Pink Radish Pickles
3 bunches of radishes, washed and trimmed.
1 cup of white vinegar
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the vinegar, water, sugar and salt and stir until sugar is complete dissolved in a glass container where you will store the radishes. (I like this big glass bowl that comes with a plastic cover.)

Score the radishes, about 1/4 inch mini cuts. Do not cut the radish complete, just cut them 3/4 of the way down. (see photo below) Add to the vinegar mixture. Store for several days in the refrigerator until the red from the outside of the radishes has completely bled out and dyed everything a beautiful pink.

Printable recipe

Photo Instructions

Beautiful, organic, washed radishes

Radishes trimmed

Radishes scored, about 1/4 inch apart cuts, 3/4 of the way down on the radish.

Radishes placed in GLASS storage container with 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt.
24 hours later, the pickles look like this. Notice the vinegar water mixture has now started to turn pink and the white surfaces of the radishes have also become slightly pink.
Pickles 4 days and perfect.


HoneyB said...

This is really cool and I think I will have to try this out! These could be really pretty and delicious garnishes on a plate! I love it. Thanks for sharing!

Christina Kim said...

It would make me so sad to dislike Korean food when I'm pregnant, because I need my Korean food! I like how these radishes turn pink. You'd think it's artificial at first, but it's natural!

Joanne Choi said...

they are pretty - I still have to post the pictures of the finished pickles - only my girls got into it yesterday so only a few are left...

It's all natural - which is amazing when you see how pretty the pink is.

sillie smile said...

i couldn't do korean food for the first half of this pregnancy. i still hesitate, except i love my mom's kimchi jigae still!!

i love pickled radishes....esp with fried chicken!! perfect match!

Hillary said...

The pickled radishes are pretty but I think the fresh radishes are just as pretty! Interesting concept. Have you ever pickled watermelons?

littlebirdhouse said...

Do you keep these in the fridge as they cure, or leave them at room temperature? (Yet another recipe from your blog I need to make soon...)

I like pickled foods and I feel like most Western meals benefit from having something acidic or sour to brighten it up, so your mouth doesn't get tired of heavy flavors.

Joanne Choi said...

Thanks for asking for the clarification littlebirdhouse. Needs to be stored in the fridge for curing. I have made the necessary changes. I need a copy editor.

deb mccabe said...

How long will these last in the fridge? i have a lot of radishes to pickle. planted too many!

Joanne Choi said...

Deb - you can usually let these go for about a week after they have turned pink. They are really yummy and crisp and fresh.

too many radishes are a hard thing to deal with. I know many people who struggled with the huge numbers in their CSA boxes.

Anonymous said...

Great recipe but this entire page can do great WITHOUT the insult on Korean food in the beginning. I am Korean and I found your dislike to Korean food extremely offensive. Of course this is all your opinion, and this is my opinion as well, but please do not insult other people's culture - especially their food.

Joanne Choi said...

Hi Anonymous -

I don't know if you read my post correctly, but I actually do not insult Korean food. I am Korean, and while living in Seoul while pregnant, I had a hard time eating Korean food while pregnant. I am Korean, and it does have a strong smell and while pregnant I could not tolerate it.

I am sorry that you misconstrued my words as insulting my own food culture - I would never as I love Korean food (and have posted many recipes that are Korean.)

Foodycat said...

These pickles look wonderful! A couple of the Italian restaurants in my neighbourhood (in England) always have little dishes of mixed vegetable pickles on the table as well! Maybe it's universal? I do love Korean pickles though. Such an array of vegetables!

kimberly said...

Radish contain high amount of water that hidrate the skin. Also contain potassium, vitamin C, calcium etc. That´s why i prefer to eat radish frequently for all benefits that brings to our body. So if you want to increase your welfare begins to eat it.

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