The next time you’re craving for something crunchy, skip the chips and whip up these healthy pickles in a jiffy.
Are you wracked with guilt after all that festive feasting? Well, here is a breather in the form of Japanese-style pickles, which you can have as a side dish or snack to make yourself feel better. I ate it once, years ago, in the home of a Japanese musician friend and I haven’t forgotten that crispy crunchy texture. I am not one for sour food, but these pickles are pleasantly tangy. I used Japanese seasoned rice vinegar meant for seasoning sushi rice as it was all I could find at my nearest neighbourhood supermarket.
But if you are a purist, you can always use plain rice vinegar. Take note though, you will need to add salt if you are using plain rice vinegar. I like adding lotus root as it offers crunch and texture, but I recommend blanching it to get rid of that overly raw taste. Pumpkin adds a lovely soft sweetness to the mix, but be careful not to overcook it as you don’t want it turning into mush. I cannot promise that this dish will help you lose weight, but it is certainly a healthier snack than the usual suspects.
2 Japanese cucumbers (170g each, sliced, 3mm thick)
1 tsp salt
350g lotus root, peeled
200g pumpkin, cut into bite-sized pieces – 3cm wide and 2cm thick
260g daikon radish, peeled
1 carrot (170g)
150g purple cabbage, shredded (1.5cm wide)
200ml seasoned rice vinegar
- Place the sliced cucumber on a plate and sprinkle half of the salt on it. Leave for 10 minutes.
- Pat dry the sliced cucumber with kitchen paper. Set aside.
- Slice the lotus root into 2cm-thick rounds, then quarter the rounds. Set aside.
- Bring 1.5 litres of water to a boil. Add remaining half teaspoon of salt.
- Blanch the lotus root for 30 seconds. Remove the lotus root and place in a colander to drain off excess water.
- Pat dry with kitchen paper and allow the lotus root to cool to room temperature.
- Bring water to a boil again and blanch the pumpkin for 45 seconds to one minute. Turn off the heat. Drain excess water from pumpkin and pat dry with kitchen paper. Allow to cool to room temperature.
- Cut the daikon and carrot into 0.8cm thick and 5cm long sticks.
- In a glass container or jar with an air-tight lid, place the sliced cucumber, lotus root, daikon, carrot, cabbage and pumpkin.
- Add the vinegar mixture to the vegetables. Use a pair of chopsticks to gently stir through.
- Put the lid on and place in the fridge. You can eat it once it is sufficiently chilled. The pickles should be able to keep up to a week.
A version of this article first appeared on www.tnp.sg.