Jan’s childhood friends are coming to town for the Quilt Festival this week end. I am planning to make a Japanese dinner on Friday night, so I decided to make pickles. I went to the Japanese store for supplies and thought why not have Japanese tonight.
I have just been diagnosed with diabetes, so I need to start reducing the sugar in my recipes. I am trying to counter the loss in flavor of the vinegar/sugar reduction by introducing some lemon peel. The last time I added lemon peel to cucumber pickles I had shredded the peel finely, but they added almost no flavor. Today, I am going to zest the peel.
After Dinner Note: The zested lemon peel was a good choice. The flavor boost was substantial, but not over powering.
Karl’s Japanese Cucumbers Pickles with Lemon and Ginger
2 lb. Japanese cucumbers
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs. mirin
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. pickled ginger (Gari), sliced into thin strips
1 tsp. lemon peel, zested
1. Thickly slice the cucumbers on the diagonal and toss them with the salt. Let them sweat for half an hour.
Tip: If you have a problem with high blood pressure you may want to reduce the salt. For reduced salt pickles, discard the brine that has formed and rinse the cucumbers.
Note: Do not use the last half inch, near the steam, of the cucumber. It can be very bitter and spoil your pickles.
2. Put the vinegar, mirin, and sugar in a small pot and add 1/3 of a cup of water. Bring the pickling sauce just to a boil to dissolve the sugar.
3. Add the ginger and lemon zest to the cucumbers and pour the sauce over it.
4. Mix well and put the mix into a pickling container.
Tip: If you do not own a tsukemonoki (a pickling container with a press; 漬物器), you may use a small round seal-able plastic container, a plate that is just slightly smaller and a weight of some kind (like a rock). Do not use a lead weight, or other uncoated metals, as the vinegar might react with it and spoil your vegetables. You could also put the pickles in a seal-able plastic bag and put a weighted plate on top.
5. The pickles will be ready, as lightly pickled cucumbers, after two to three hours, but will be even better after two or three days.