Recently, myself and a bunch of food blogger friends went for a quick bite after a wine tasting at Ping Pong, a chain of dim sum restaurants. The dim sum is pretty average, but what stood out was a dish of pickled celery (right) which was immediately ordered due to my love of all
So, a month or so later, my sister gave me Yan-Kit So's Classic Chinese Cookery book for Christmas. It's a lovely book with a great chapter on Chinese ingredients and full of brightly coloured and well styled photos. A quick flick through drew my attention immediately to a recipe called 'Chinese Pickled Vegetables' - just what I wanted. So, armed with the recipe, I set about making it last night, with some minor alterations.
Yan-Kit So's recipe doesn't use chillis or sesame, but I added these as I couldn't see it working out badly.
Chinese Pickled Vegetables
Makes enough to accompany a meal for 4
1/2 a cucumber
5 sticks of celery
2 tbsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 red chillis
A small pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp sesame seeds
A drizzle of toasted sesame oil
Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and deseed. Slice into even batons. Peel the carrots and slice into the same sized batons as the cucumber, and do the same for the celery. I find that if you run a vegetable peeler down the length of the celery, it'll get rid of any unwanted stringy bits. Put all the vegetables in a colander and sprinkle with the salt, tossing it all together so that it all gets an even coating. Leave to drain for 2 1/2 hours. While draining, the vegetables will limpen slightly, but this is normal.
Next, give the vegetables a quick rinse and pat dry, leaving them still slightly damp. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and the vinegar (don't do what I did and mistaken mirin for rice wine vinegar - luckily I noticed in time!). Add the chopped up chillis, the chilli flakes and the sesame seeds, then add the vegetables. Toss well, so that all the vegetables get a coating, then drizzle with the sesame oil and toss again. Cover, and put in the fridge overnight.
I had a quick taste of them today, and the result is delicious. The celery loses it's raw flavour (which I'm not a huge fan of) but still keeps it's crunch, as does the carrot and the cucumber. It's sweet yet salty, and a nice subtle tang from the rice vinegar. It packs quite a punch, so if you're not a big chilli head then perhaps leave out the chilli flakes. I doubt these will make it to the table; I keep nibbling on them here and there. The sesame also enhances the sweetness of the vegetables, although next time I think I will up the cucumber and decrease some celery, as I think the cucumber is the star of the show.