To keep the good buzz going, I turned to Quick Pickles, a nice little book by Chris Schlesinger (of East Coast Grill and Back Eddy fame), John Willoughby (Executive Editor of Gourmet), and Dan George (who, I’m sure, also rocks).
John was a former editor of Cook’s Illustrated, where we crossed paths, and he also taught a food writing class that I attended many years ago. This does not mean, in any way, shape, or form, that Cook’s Illustrated or Gourmet somehow endorse this blog, just to be clear. Quite the opposite, I’m sure. It just means that John tried to teach me some writerly things once upon a time, while I tried desperately not to learn them. (I think it’s obvious who won that tug of war.)
But, I’m willing to learn about pickles. I’m willing to eat them. And, most importantly, I’m willing to use up all these extra CSA carrots I have lying around. So, let’s get down to business.
These pickles are awesome. They taste nothing like your standard pickle for obvious reasons (just look at them), but also because there’s no vinegar in the brine. In fact, there’s no brine at all. The vegetables are preserved in oil, and what you taste are sesame and ginger and, well, carrots, all bright and cheerful. You also get some heat from the red pepper, which builds as the weeks progress. And while the carrots are crisp like pickles, I tend to forget that's what they are and end up eating them like they’re a side dish rather than a mere garnish. Like some kind of unshredded Asian slaw.
I can’t be sure, but I think that’s what the authors intended all along.
Sesame-Pickled Carrots with Ginger Strips
Save this recipe for your summer CSA, then grill some fish alongside it.
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 lb. carrots, peeled and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
3 Tbsp. Asian sesame oil
3 Tbsp. peeled, slivered fresh ginger
2 Tbsp. orange marmalade (the more tart, the better)
Grated zest of 1 orange
2 Tbsp. black and/or white sesame seeds
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
In a medium sauté pan, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the carrots and half of the ginger and sauté, stirring frequently, until the carrots are crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
Toast the sesame seeds in a small, dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes, shaking frequently, until fragrant (careful: they burn quickly). Add to carrots along with the remaining ingredients, and toss well to combine. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. The flavor will develop after a full day in the fridge. They will keep for a month in an airtight container, shaking occasionally to redistribute the oil.
Source: Slightly adapted from Quick Pickles by Chris Schlesinger, John Willoughby, and Dan George.