mustard seeds and pork belly buns

pork bun

I got the Momofuku cookbook for my birthday! To break it in, we had some friends over to dinner and I made a bunch of things out of it: pork belly ssäm, pickled mustard seed sauce with pickled cucumbers (recipe below), sweet corn with miso butter, and steamed buns. Well, the buns were my own favorite bao recipe, but I shaped them based on David Chang’s process, folded over into little pockets before steaming, and it worked great. The sauce was killer. The salty-sweet roasted pork belly wasn’t bad either. There were very few leftovers. Continue reading

pickled lotus root

Recently being in the odd position of having two leftover nodules of lotus root lurking in my fridge (H-Mart sells them in large packs, as it turns out), I looked through all my books for something to do with them besides just tossing them into a stirfry.  A recipe in China Moon
for pickled lotus root jumped out at me, as China Moon recipes tend to do.

Lotus root is a wonderful vegetable – like water chestnut, it stays crunchy no matter how much you cook it, and it has a very mild flavor that works with all sorts of things. Plus it’s really cool looking. I don’t get to cook with it very often, so I definitely didn’t want to let any of this batch go to waste. Pickling seemed like the perfect solution. Continue reading

pickled garlic scapes

loop de loop

It’s no secret here that I love garlic scapes, and I’ve already written about most of the ways we eat them: grilled, sauteed, blitzed into pesto. But I wrote an article on cooking scapes for Grow Northwest last month, and I threw in a recipe that I hadn’t tried before: pickled garlic scapes. My own garlic crop this year is pathetic (my back yard is getting too shady to grow garlic), so I had to wait until a local farm had them at their market booth, and only got the scapes into the pickling liquid for my trial run the day the article was due for publication.

packing in the scapespickled garlic scapes

Fortunately for my credibility, it worked! I opened the jar when we got back from our road trip and I really like them. The scapes I used are a little tough and fibrous, but the texture on the whole is like very firm green beans, and the flavor is rich, mellow and extremely garlicky.

The recipe I used is basically the one from Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars, and her version is on the Serious Eats website here. I really liked the flavor of the dilly brine with the garlic, but I’ve seen many different flavors of brine used for scapes. As long as you have the right ratio of vinegar, water and salt I don’t think it matters what else you put in there. Halving the recipe works very well if you just want one small jar.

Also, I don’t can, so I just packed the scapes into a clean jar and put on the lid after adding the hot brine, then let the jar cool on the counter before I put it into the fridge. I waited a week before opening it again, and we’ll try to finish them off within a few weeks. I like these enough, though, that I might actually try canning some next season to eat all year.

pickling vinegar

Pickled Garlic Scapes (previously published in the July 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine)

  • about a pound of garlic scapes
  • 2 teaspoons dill seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fine salt

Thoroughly clean your jars, either one quart jar or two pints. Trim the ends of the scapes, making sure to remove the fibrous blossom sheath, and cut them into lengths that will fit in your jars (garlic scapes are so curly it’s a little tricky to pack them tightly). Place the dill and black peppercorns in the jars and pack the trimmed scapes in on top.

Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly pour the hot brine over the garlic scapes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Once the jar is full, tap the jar lightly to dislodge any air bubbles. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.

If you want to can your pickles, wipe the rim, apply the jar lid and ring, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. If you don’t bother with the hot water bath, simply put on a lid and refrigerate. Let the pickles cure for at least a week before eating. They will last for several weeks in the refrigerator.


tamarind pork

threading the skewers 

Despite what the weather keeps telling us, it really is summer now, and therefore grilling season. Even if it’s raining, darn it. At least the sun came out for a few minutes while Jon was grilling these Vietnamese tamarind pork skewers – just long enough for us to eat our dinner outside, before getting cold and going back in. Yay, June.

pickled zucchini

pickled vegetables

We had gotten a pork roast out the freezer a few days ahead, but hadn’t quite decided what direction to go with it. Jon pulled out all of our meat cookbooks and finally settled on a Bruce Aidells marinade with tamarind, fish sauce and shallot. He also made the included recipe for pickled shredded zucchini, and since we had a bag of radishes and some carrots on hand, he pickled those as well. All I had to do when I got home from work was cook up some rice noodles.

Continue reading

an oddly soothing stirfry

menu planning

While doing some serious browsing through our cookbook collection one day, we found a recipe in the latest Alford/Duguid book, Beyond the Great Wall, that sounded both easy and exciting. It was a simple pork stirfry, seasoned with shallot and ginger, but with the addition of a good handful of pickled mustard greens. It just so happens that I recently bought a jar of these on spec, so I was very excited to try this.

stirfry mise en place Continue reading