The plate of pickles we enjoyed on a recent visit to Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York was the reason I bought the Momofuku cookbook, and eventually tried making the pickles for myself. They turned out brilliantly. I love pickles and these ones are just right up my ally. Made from prime fresh produce, treated to a brief bath in a simple pickling solution, and crisp to the bite but unmistakably pickled. If you love pickles, you will love these…
Start with a bunch of clean glass jars, or if you don’t have those, clean sturdy plastic storage units like tupperware. Next, buy incredibly farm fresh produce of your liking, I have tried small japanese cucumbers, carrots, chili peppers, singkamas or jicama, beets, green cabbage, red cabbage, young onions, and Japanese pears to good results. Wash them carefully and chop to bite sized pieces. Place them in your containers.
Next make the simplest of pickling solutions: 1 cup hot water, but not boiling or very hot even, 1/2 cup premium rice vinegar, 6 tablespoons sugar, 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. This recipe is from the Momofuku cookbook. I actually like to add a touch more water so the pickles aren’t so vinegary. Pour this over your pickles, cover and refrigerate. Let them sit in the fridge for a couple of days before consuming. However, I did try most of them a day after making and they already tasted great…
The color of the beet pickles were partiularly striking, though if you aren’t a beet lover, you might find these a tad earthy. I loved them. The Japanese cucumbers were also good, though the skins understandably turned a bit olive green. If you want a more vibrant green, I suspect you have to wait for the marinade to cool before pouring them over the cucumbers. Alternatively, you cut the cucumbers about an hour before you eat them and do a very short bath in the vinegar solution.
The slam dunk pickle was the singkamas or jicama one. It retained its crispness and had that tangy sour sweet flavor. It reminded me of the times as a kid when I used to cut up singkamas and eat it with vinegar and salt. This option wasn’t in Momofuku’s cookbook, but I strongly encourage you to try it.
Finally, since the singkamas worked so well, I decided to try the suggested Japanese pear pickles, consisting of thin slices of Japanese pear, marinated for just an hour before eating. This was SUPERB. Sweet and tangy at the same time. SUPERB.
Overall, these pickles would go great with grilled fish or meats, with fried foods, even lechon. A little goes a long way, so don’t be tempted to make huge batches unless you have a veritable army of pickle lovers as frequent diners in your home. Very economical, super easy to make, and a pleasant addition to the table. After trying several rice vinegars, I use the one in the photo above which I buy from the Chinese ingredients store in Virra Mall in Greenhills. Happy pickling!