A Spicy Pickle
Patience is an essential ingredient to good food. I think so anyways. Whether you are waiting for a special dish at a new restaurant, an oh-so-spicy hot chicken to be fried somewhere in Nashville or you’re simply cooking at home, good food is always worth the wait. I’ll be talking about foods that take their time to get mighty tasty in this column, from pickles that only take a few days to a meat that might take up to a month to be ready. We’ll be smoking, pickling, canning, baking, and fermenting just about everything under the sun (with a GIF or two thrown in there for good measure). Eating is my hobby and if you were to come over to my house, you would probably leave with a jar of pickles, a slice of pie, or a piece of meat to eat later. Basically, I’m striving to be the best grandmother I can be.
Our house has three bathrooms, but since there are only two of us, the one in the back never gets used. It just so happens to be the perfect curing/canning room. It has a tiny window and barely any light comes in so it stays cool during most of the year. In the winter, it becomes the meat-curing room. We recently finished up a batch of duck prosciutto and a log of pancetta for a friend. Last Christmas, we decided to cure bacon and give it to friends as gifts. About 10 pounds of bacon were hanging from our shower curtain rod for about six weeks. When the weather starts getting warmer, we slowly start switching to canning. I immediately jump on Amazon and use Prime to order at least three boxes of mason jars.
While I have a soft spot for canned tomatoes and jams in the winter, I also like the mostly-instant gratification of refrigerator pickles. In a few days, you have vegetables with complex flavors, all ready to be thrown into your next meal without the long process of canned baths. When we have the time, we like to stop by the farmer’s market and pick up a few vegetables that are in season and have a slicing party at our house on a Saturday afternoon.
Asian flavors dominate most of our home cooking. It might have to do with the cooking class we took in Japan about two years ago. We bought miso and soy sauce from an old man in the mountainous town of Takayama. He explained, in a mix of Japanese and English, how he made his products and how they differ from each other. Did you know it’s basically the same process for both, but somewhere in the middle, there’s a fork in the road where it can become soy sauce or miso paste? I had no idea. These pickled jalapeños are inspired by that same idea: Thinking about that fork in the road and making something different with what you know. These soy sauce-based pickled jalapeños can be added to tacos, salads, burgers, sticky fried rice, you name it. While they can be ready to eat in about 2-3 days, I suggest the patience route. Keep them in the jar for a week or two for maximum flavor. While I know it will be hard to not snack on them every time you open the fridge, I promise they are worth the wait. Just hold on!
Soy Sauce Pickled Jalapeños
3/4 cup soy sauce
6 garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
1 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ginger beer (or ginger ale)
Yields two 16oz mason jars full of pickled jalapeños
Wash your mason jars with hot water, make sure they are seriously clean.
Slice up those jalapeños into thin rings, for easy snacking at a later time. If you’re into spicy, leave the seeds. If not, go ahead and discard them. *I would like to kindly remind you to use gloves and remember to wash your hands after this so you don’t end up pouring milk in your eye.
In a small saucepan, pour the rice vinegar, soy sauce, garlic cloves and sugar. Bring it to soft boil and stir occasionally over the next few minutes. Remove from heat and add lime and lemon juice. Stir. Add ginger beer (or ginger ale, whatever floats your boat). Let cool for about 30 minutes.
Add jalapeños to jars, followed by the liquid. Get a few garlic slices into every jar. Make sure to cover the jalapeños with the liquid, no jalapeño left behind. Refrigerate and you’re done! Wait a week or two and feast!