I have to admit that “I need more Asian pickles in my life” is not a thought I often have. But after flipping through Karen Solomon’s new book on the topic, it’s a thought that may start occurring more often.
Solomon is a Bay Area-based food writer, whose last book was Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, and Other Kitchen Projects.” Before that, she wrote Can It, Bottle It, Smoke it, and Other Kitchen Projects. (Notice a theme here?) Now she’s out with Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves.
[jump]And if the idea of Asian-style pickles has you wondering what else there is besides kimchi and pickled ginger, let me tell you right here, your mind will be blown.
The book covers Japan (pickled mustard greens), Korea (numerous kinds of kimchi), China (five-spice pickled carrots), India (sweet mango pickle), and Southeast Asia, which includes Vietnam (daikon and carrot), Thailand (pickled chiles with lime), Philippines (banana ketchup), Indonesia (hot pickled pineapple and peanuts) and Malaysia (pickled vegetables).
The book came about because as a lover of Asian cuisine who had lived in the region for years, Solomon couldn’t find a book in existence that covered all the pickles of all of Asia. So as the old adage goes, she had to write it herself.
Living here as she does, she includes adaptations of favorite pickles of several Bay Area chefs: Sunhui Chang of FuseBox in West Oakland shares his recipe for pickled cucumbers, and Preeti Mistry of Oakland’s Juhu Beach Club shares hers for apples in mustard, which Solomon tweaks by adding mint.
The Korean section has many recipes not only for pickles, but for banchan, the array of side dishes that accompany a Korean meal.
While aspiring pickle-makers may need to make or buy some special equipment – a Japanese pickling bed comes to mind – and occasionally seek out a rare ingredient at an Asian market or online, most recipes can be made with basic ingredients. For pickle-making, all one really needs is the willingness to experiment, some room in the fridge and a good stash of jars.
Karen Solomon will be speaking at 6:30 p.m. at Omnivore Books on Weds. July 30.