Appetizer is a “small” dish that was served typically before a meal to “wake” up the “sleeping palate” of a diner. These appetizer generally are strong flavoured and usually is tangy and spicy. It can be served chilled or warm. Chinese has a whole range of simple appetizers that are served at restaurants or at home.
Yesterday, I issued a local appetizer – spicy, sweet and tangy Sambal Chilli Belachan Condiments (辣椒虾酱酱料）and while writing the post, it reminded me that I have this Chinese style pickle radish appetizer recipe that I liked very much . For me it is rather addictive if the dish is done properly. Since I have a radish at home, I have decided to prepare a batch . One with black vinegar which is sweet sour for the kids and another one is pickled using white vinegar which is spicy and slightly savoury sweet.
I first learnt to prepare this when I am in the corporate world. I remembered one lady colleague from China love to prepare this radish pickles. She would prepare and brought to the office when we have lunch together.
Besides, this radish pickle is totally not unfamiliar to me. When I worked in Hong Kong and China, this is a very common appetizer served at Chinese restaurants. It came in all shapes and flavour. Some would prepared in radish cubes whereas some will prepare in radish sticks. But I have decided to prepare it in radish slices. The restaurant may have prepare it in a mala (麻辣） style and some have flavoured it with spicy fermented soya bean paste (辣豆瓣酱）。 The flavouring part can be any type of flavouring that you like but I personally prefer some that is simpler and well liked by my family.
This is an old post relocated from my Facebook page. Therefore all the pictures and instructions are relocated from there. The new images will not be the same as in the illustration set of picture. In that illustration, I have added some calamansi skin and juice but since I run out of calamansi today, i have omitted that. What you need to know are the basic steps and once you are aware of the steps, you can proceed to flavour it with you favourite seasonings.
A successful batch of these pickles shall be crunchy with no raw taste. It can be sweet or salty depending on your flavouring seasonings. If you have done a batch that is not crunchy, it means that some where must have went wrong and you may have to throw it away as it will not be delicious. This pickle can be kept for a very long time like months in the fridge PROVIDED every times you take some pickle from the bottle, always used a clean spoon or chopstick and the bottle used to store the pickle must be sterilized.
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: Depend on size of radish
- One carrot
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil or chilli oil or cooking oil
- 1 tablespoon of light soya sauce
- 3 tablespoons of sugar
- Some chilli sauce or fresh chilli or chilli powder or spicy fermented soya bean paste
- 5 tablespoons of salt
- Some calamansi or lime (optional)
- White vinegar or black vinegar adequate to cover your slice radishes.
Note: you can use the above measurements as a starting point and adjust accordingly to suit your taste buds. Other condiments that can be considered are spicy fermented soya bean paste as in the picture below.
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- De-skinned the carrot and slice into thin slices.
- If you preferred, you can also cut into small rectangular sticks.
- In a bowl, put one layer of radish and sprinkle a layer of salt. Add another layer and sprinkle with more salt. Repeat until all the radishes have completed. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. The purpose of this step is the application of osmosis to force out the water in the radish. This will make the radish pickles become more crunchy.
- After 15 minutes, use a spoon to stir the radish and you should see some water left in the bowl. Left the radish in the bowl for at least another 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes. Throw away the water. Add in some cooked water and wash away the salt. Squeeze hard to force out all the water. You can also put it in a muslin cloth, use a heavy object to put on top to assist in the squeezing. The drier the radish, the more crunchier it will be.
- Transfer the pressed radish to another clean bowl. Get ready your condiments such as sugar, vinegar, chilli sauce, sesame oil and light soya sauce. You may want to know how to prepare chilli sauce in the post: Burnt, Hot, Spicy– I am running away!!!– Understanding Chilli Pepper and Making Of Chilli Sauce
- Put all the seasonings in the squeezed radish and mix well. Add vinegar just enough to cover the radishes. Transfer to a container preferably a sterilized glass container since it contains vinegar. Take some pickles to try the taste. Adjust accordingly (add sugar or others) to suit your taste buds. Marinate preferably overnight and served as a cold dish or side dish before Chinese meals. If you looked carefully, I have added some calamansi/lime zest because I like calamansi flavour, I usually add 2-3 calamansi juice and some calamansi zest. However this is optional.
- Your flavouring agent can be sweet based or salt based depend on your preference. You can change to size and shape of the pickles prepared.
- It is of utmost important that full hygiene is required for the preparation of this simple dish. Otherwise, your pickles will spoil easily.
This is a simple and tasty version and there are just too many variations. Personally, my favourite combination is calamansi, white vinegar, chopped chilli padi, sugar, some chicken stock and sesame oil. Your preference will very much depend on the dish that you have tasted before. What I like is because it is very appetizing and really can open up my palate. Remember that the radish must be crunchy to make it delicious. Therefore, by all means, squeeze out all the radish juices before adding the pickle seasonings.
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