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Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves

By Jessi Cape, Fri., Aug. 1, 2014

Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves

Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves

by Karen Solomon, Ten Speed Press, 208pp., $19.99

It's worth reiterating Abbi Lunde's sentiment that everyone interested in making kimchi ought to try. Enter Karen Solomon's guide: an entire book dedicated to making the addictive flavors of Asian pickles seem doable. Broken into geographically-based chapters – Japan, Korea, China, India, and southeast Asia – this book provides an overview of the regional specialties and a very user-friendly approach to replicating favorites at home. Her writing is engaging and well-researched, the recipes clear and concise with vivid accompanying photographs. Particularly helpful is Solomon's use of fairly standard kitchen equipment and (mostly) easy-to-acquire ingredients.

Solomon's seven kimchi recipes, both fresh and fermented, are simple and appealing: whole leaf, cubed radish, squid, rolled mustard green, stuffed cucumber, summer radish, and a water kimchi. Other intriguing recipes: from China, the chile black bean oil; from the Philippines, banana ketchup; from Vietnam, fermented "cock" sauce; from India, apples in mustard with mint.

My garden had a surplus of jalapeños, so I tried her recipe for pickled chiles with lime, or prik dong nam som, a common Thai tabletop accoutrement. Refresh­ing­ly, the time frame is only one day and requires only seven standard ingredients – including my harvested loot. The recipe did not require a trip to the store ... or cooking, or canning, or any prep outside of cutting the produce. The result: crisp, twangy sliced peppers and pretty purple red onions in a fiery brine – perfect for spooning onto everything I eat.

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