All-season shredded vegetable pickle-salad, plus migrating birds!

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Let's face it, February is not a very good month for vegetable lovers in much of the northern hemisphere. We're done with the bounty of fall, and we're looking forward to spring produce, but for the moment what we see in the stores are flown in from faraway parts or blandly grown in greenhouses. Three vegetables I rely on heavily around this time of year are the cabbage, carrot and cucumber. The 3-c's are somewhat boring perhaps, but are predicably crunchy when raw, and in the case of the first two, sweet and delicious when cooked. (Cooked cucumber is quite interesting, but that's for another day.)

This is another one of those instant pickles that I have tons of recipes for on this site and on Just Hungry. They are great refrigerator staples that you can keep around for at least a week or two, if not longer. It is based on several flavors, most notably my mom's namasu (carrot and daikon radish salad/relish thing... there's not much distinction between Japanese/Asian pickles, relishes and salads sometimes) as well as Vietnamese do chua, which is a must-have in bahn mi sandwiches. It works with rice based bentos or in sandwiches (though there is a trick to that, which I will get to in a later post) as a refreshing/slightly sweet hashiyasume or change of pace side. I did stay away from using daikon radish; while daikon is ubiquitous in Japan and throughout Asia, it's not as take-for-grantedly common in much of North America and Europe.

I don't like to make a huge amount of this, since I would typically use it 4-5 times over the course of a couple of weeks, which is how long I'd keep this for in the refrigerator.

Recipe: All-season shredded vegetable pickle-salad

Makes about 3 cups (4 cups of vegetables wilt down in volume when done)

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrot
  • 1 cup finely shredded cucumber
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2-3 dried red chili peppers
  • 1 5 cm / 2 in square piece of konbu seaweed, or 1 teaspoon konbu dashi stock granules (or regular dashi stock granules if you don't mind it being non-vegetarian)

Put the vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle on the salt. Massage the vegetables until the vegetables have wilted a bit.

Combine all the ingredients in a non-reactive (not metal) container with a tight fitting lid. Put the lid on and give it a good shake. Leave to marinate overnight before eating. Keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks at least.

Decorative cut bonus: Migrating birds or arrowheads

The decoration on top of the picture above is made from fresh cucumber skin, and takes just a couple of minutes to do. I meant for it to look a bit like migrating birds, inspired by the tons of birds flying around in the sky near our house until a couple of months ago. They were a bit scary, but really impressive - I've seen migrating birds before though, but not in such an open sky. Here's a photo taken by The Guy one evening.

Swarm of birds over Vaison-la-Romaine / Vogelschwarm über Vaison-la-Romaine

This is such a simple cut that i"m sure it's been thought of before. If I find a known name for it I'll ost it here. You could use the pieces as arrows, or to show a trail or something like that too. Just take off a thin strip with a knife or vegetable peeler, trim it into a rectangle shape, and cut like the diagram here.

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