The miso pickles were simple: I mixed up some shiro miso paste and a little mirin, then buried some turnip wedges in the miso mix and left them for about 4 days. Rinsed off they are absolutely delicious! Crunchy, salty and sweet.
The vinegar pickles were the only failure - and mostly because I used a combination of rice vinegar and green apple sipping vinegar, which left the pickles tasting like sour apples. They were edible but not really what I was shooting for. I'll have to work on that. The last batch of vinegar pickles I made were delicious, but they were heavily doused with chili flakes so they were hot, sour and satisfying.
Sichuan beetroot pickles
The beetroot pickles are my favorite by a long shot! I warmed a few cracked Sichuan peppercorns in some sesame oil, then added soy, mirin, a little sugar and some star anise and let the liquid infuse for a while. While that was making yummy I cut some beets into sticks, brined for about half an hour, rinsedthem, then put them in a small jar and filled it with the pickling liquid. Then I simply let them sit in the fridge for about 4 days, shaking the jar every day or so. Now that they are ready the beets are still crunchy and sweet, but they're also salty with a wonderful hit of star anise at the front, fading to a warming heat from the pepper and the whole thing is smoothed out by the sesame.
Finally I had this punnet of egg shaped cumquats that we found at Wholefoods and I bought simply because they were gorgeous and I hadn't seen cumquats for the longest time. They are a wonderful tiny citrus, with sour juice and really sweet zest. Jo and I used to grow them back in Tas, and we'd pickle them in sugar and brandy for 6 months until they were syrupy and divine. However, this time I didn't have the patience for 6 month pickling and Jo is unlikely to be drinking brandy even by then, so I took a different route.
I decided to modify this recipe. I washed the cumquats, halved them and removed any pips. I then brined them really quickly by throwing them in some boiling salt water for half a minute then draining them (to soften the skin up some). I made the pickling liquid using rice vinegar and green apple sipping vinegar (3:1 ratio, about 1.5 cups total), some sugar (about half a cup) and the spices shown below - a small cinnamon stick, some cloves, cardamom (pods almost impossible to find here) and shredded fresh ginger.
Spice mix for the pickled cumquats
When the liquid was happily simmering away I added the drained cumquat halves and cooked the whole lot for about 5 minutes but not long enough for the fruit to lose its shape, then added everything to a freshly boiled jar, sealed it up and let it cool. I left them to infuse in the fridge for 4-5 days, turning the jar occasionally to make sure the spices were well mixed through. The finished product is lovely! Sweet, sour, salty and well spiced, but with the clean citrus taste towering over everything else. Perfect on their own with cheese but I'm sure they're also going to be fab to cook with!
And after all that I still had the energy to cook the beloved and I a yosenabe style soup for dinner - a chicken broth base with udon noodles, pea shoots, asparagus, shitake mushrooms, hot sesame egg, spring onion and enoki...sprinkled with togarashi it is just the best!