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Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond [Anglais] [Relié]

Karen Solomon

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My dear fellow pickling aficionados, given the choice of any global cuisine for nearly any meal of the day, my tastes and preferences will always point East. My meals include stir-fries, broths zupped up by preserved lemon or ginger, noodles of every imaginable type, savory pancakes, rice porridge, and, of course, several bowls of good ol’ Nishiki or jasmine steamed rice. My favorite brunch item ever is served at Namu Gaji in San Francisco: two sous vide eggs bobbing in an outstanding bowl of homemade dashi, served alongside rice, fried oysters, and house-made kimchi. That soothing, salty, full-flavored and fermented feast is what I crave.

Despite the fact that my first two cookbooks are always shelved with the jam making and canning books, I am a fan of kitchen tinkering of all stripes. I live for drying, salting, curing, marinating, and brining. I am simply fascinated by the meditative practice of taking a foodstuff and transforming it with little more than salt or sugar, heat or moisture, time and magical bacteria.

Enter the humble pickle. Although I love all of my kitchen creations the way a mother hen loves her flock, pickles have truly captured my heart (and my stomach!). I swear, I could live on little more than hot rice and cold pickles, provided they are crisp, flavorful, pungent, and bright. It is only natural that, with so many Asian flavors spilling from my dinner bowl plus so many years of traveling to Asia and living there for a spell, my interest would turn to pickles of the Asian continent. Although many of these pickles have clear and immediate appeal—after all, who doesn’t love fresh vegetables dunked in a bath of vinegar and sugar?—it is the ones that have the most challenging flavors that I find the most pleasurable and rewarding. (I’m looking at you, pickled squid, nukazuke, and achar!) Naturally, after tinkering in my own kitchen trying my hand at pickling in rice bran, soy sauce, citrus juices, and fish sauce, I set out to buy a cookbook that could teach me deeply about Asian pickles. While I found a few great books on pickles of individual countries, I did not find the pan-Asian pickling experience in recipe form, equipped with descriptions of ingredients and unfamiliar techniques, that I had a yen for. It was clear that I was going to have to write it instead.

So how did I set about on this global task? By stuffing my brain and my mouth full of every flavor of each country represented as much as possible. I set out on an epic research project: relying not just on personal experience from my own travels, but also other cookbooks, countless blogs, San Francisco’s manifold authentic eateries and supermarkets, and friends, friend’s mothers, and grandmothers. I also pestered chefs and as many people working in the trenches as I could—literally strangers who were experts at the craft and working behind deli cases, ringing cash registers, and waiting tables—to share their techniques, ingredients, and tips. And, of course, as any cookbook author will tell you, there is also nothing that can replace good ol’ trial and error. The kitchen-as-laboratory is always the best place to learn hands on (and fail a lot! Yes!).

There were a few ground rules that I’ve put into place as I set out to write for a (primarily) North American audience. It is my rule of thumb to always provide DIY alternatives to special equipment. Believe me, I would not ask you to buy a single extra piece of kitchen gear that was not absolutely necessary. I am a big evangelist for the idea that you should be free and able to make pickles—particularly Asian pickles—with all of the pots and pans that are already in your cupboard.

This same idea holds true for ingredients. I solemnly swear never to ask you to track down difficult-to-source ingredients unless they will truly make or break a dish. And if there is a suitable substitute, I always make a note of it in the recipe. I’ve also tried, whenever possible, to ensure that there is a place to purchase obscure items online; if not, I haven’t included it in the recipes here, no matter how authentic it may be. (I’ve included those helpful URLs when applicable.) Authenticity is nothing if a pickle’s components aren’t accessible.

The other utilitarian aspect to all of this pickle passion is that I have included many ideas for how to use your pickles in daily cooking. What good is a fridge full of jars that never get opened? After all, the whole idea of pickles is that you have preserved food standing by to craft a fast, delicious, and (most often) healthy meal. While some of these recipes produce fiercely sour, spicy, or sweet morsels designed to be dainty little palate cleansers to complement a main dish, others bask in the spotlight when tossed with meat, seafood, or tofu in a wok or bubbled into a broth with noodles. Plenty of others make for a vegetable side dish that’s ready to serve by the large bowlful, or a meaningful sandwich accessory. I also include a recipe for congee (also commonly called jook),  a satisfying rice porridge that’s the pickle’s best backdrop for a satisfying meal. 

Some other notes before moving forward: You like canning, right? So do I. But you will notice that most of these recipes are not designed for long-term shelf storage. (Warning: Your refrigerator shelf may get crowded.) Fans of both fermented and brined pickles will not be disappointed; there are plenty of both represented here as is the custom of the Asian continent. One thing for certain: you will not be bored. There are many techniques and ingredients within that are likely new to you, and pickling beds and substrates that are, in large part, new frontiers for the Western fan of kosher dills and bread-‑and‑butter pickles.

If I’ve done my job correctly, you will become as enchanted with Asian pickles as I am. And your refrigerator will soon be busting at the seams with a crisp, colorful, and invigorating pickle feast.
Happy pickling!


This is not tangy-sweet, pink gari (as made in the recipe on page 19), the sushi roll’s faithful companion. It’s a different way to preserve fresh ginger and to vamp it up with the powerful color and flavor of red umezu (see page 191). On the Japanese table, a little pinch of this pickle is ubiquitous alongside stir-fried noodles, fried pork, or hearty beef and onion stews atop rice—in short, any heavy food that needs a little brightening and lightening from a pungent, presenceful pickle. A little goes a long way: this small jar is a mighty flavor giant that will last nearly indefinitely. 

Red Pickled Ginger 
(Beni Shoga)
• Time: about 1 week • Makes about 1 cup •
1 pound fresh ginger
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup red umezu, homemade (page 16) or store‑bought

Peel the ginger (use the edge of a spoon—it’s much easier) and chop it coarsely into 1-inch chunks. Working in batches, put the ginger in a food processor fitted with the metal blade (filling no more than halfway) and pulse until it’s about the size of lentils. Transfer the ginger to a large nonreactive bowl. Add the sugar and salt and mix thoroughly to combine, then cover with a drop lid (see page 29), and weight with a 1-pound weight. Allow the ginger to sit at least 4 hours (leaving it overnight is fine). 

Preheat the oven to 200°F.

Drain the liquid from the ginger (there should be a good amount) and squeeze the ginger very firmly to get out as much liquid as possible. (Feel free to save this juice to use as a flavoring agent in other foods, or as a drink with more sugar and sparkling water.) 
Transfer the ginger to a nonstick baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread it in a single layer and place in the oven; prop the door slightly open with a wooden spoon left in the door. Allow the ginger to dry for 2 to 3 hours, stirring every hour, until it’s dry to the touch.

Pack the ginger into a 1/2-pint jar and pour enough umezu over it to cover it completely. Cover, and allow it to sit on the countertop for about 3 hours, then top off with more umezu as necessary to keep the liquid level above the ginger. Let the ginger sit, covered, at room temperature for 24 hours, then move it to the refrigerator. The pickled ginger will be ready to eat in about a week, and, kept refrigerated with a tight lid, it will keep for at least a year.

Revue de presse

“I love this book! Karen Solomon has spent years exploring the remarkably varied pickling styles of Asia. This is among the very best books I’ve encountered on pickling, and it goes beyond pickling itself with recipes for foods used in or served with pickles. Karen’s descriptions of technique are clear and crisp, and her personal tone made me feel as if she were whispering encouragement in my ear.”
-Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation

“In this culinary passport to Asia, Karen Solomon helps you discover the delicate flavors and complex spices of pickles you didn’t know existed. A delicious roadmap for pickle lovers everywhere!”
-Lauryn Chun, author of The Kimchi Cookbook

“With this book, Karen Solomon has forever updated the American pickle canon. Featuring both truly traditional Asian pickles and her varied and inspiring adaptations, it is required reading for all home preservers.” 
-Marisa McClellan, creator of Food In Jars

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.5 étoiles sur 5  14 commentaires
21 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A must-have for Pickle People: There are gems and jewels and so many keepers in this book! 12 juin 2014
Par I Do The Speed Limit - Publié sur
I love pickled things. I love the sweet, vinegary, salty, intense-ness of all things pickled. I love how it gives a longer life to produce from my sweat-and-tears-drenched veggie gardens. I do not like canned pickles--my summertime kitchen is way too hot for the process. I also can not do fermented pickles: The temperatures needed are just not available in the area where I live.

That leaves me with "quickles" as the author fondly refers to the majority of the pickling recipes in this book.

I have more than my far share of pickling books on my cookbook shelves. Most of them are from authors whose backgrounds are colored by American and European ancestors--and they lean towards canning. Of course, I find a few quick pickle recipes, refrigerator pickles and freezer pickles mixed in with the properly canned pickles. But, definitely not enough to have caused me to quit my search for pickle recipes. So, I was happy to stumble upon this book!

Yes, I have noticed--because my eyes are wide open, always--that there are pickle recipes in almost all of my oriental cookbooks. But, being the fanatic that I am, there were never enough.

Until now. Now, I have a pickle cookbook that rounds out my collection of pickling cookbooks: Truly, a must-have.

So, here are my observations. And I will try to limit my exuberance, because I know that not everyone is going to be as excited about this book as I am:

The author offers alternative instructions for special equipment and alternative ingredients whenever possible. She includes an ingredient dictionary at the back and also lists suppliers, helpful websites, other cookbooks and a measurement conversion chart. She gives advice on main dishes with which to pair the pickles: I found that helpful and enlightening, and it spurred my creativity. She offers plenty of tips and advice--it's obvious that she's spent of lot of time thinking about and living with her pickle recipes.

Recipes might take up more than one page, depending on the amount of instruction, description and tips. The author also provides personable introductions for each recipe. The author is wordy, but she writes very well and her words flow. When it comes to pickle-making, I think wordiness and thorough explanations and instructions are a very good thing! The more description, the better. It just means that page layout/recipe layout is a bit stuffy because of a preponderance of paragraph form. But, since you really need to read each recipe through several times before beginning, it is not a problem. What matters is that the title stands out and so does the list of ingredients. Each recipe also highlights the time involved and the finished quantity.

Unfortunately, although there are plenty of pretty photos, you do not see a picture of each finished recipe.

The recipes--for the most part--are not time-consuming. The ingredient lists (except for Indian recipes where longer ingredient lists are the norm) are not long and drawn out. Ingredients are usually not hard to find. (Although I am having trouble finding one of the Japanese ingredients, a certain kind of seaweed. I think I will just substitute another kind and see how it goes.)

Take a look through the "Look Inside" feature and you will see how the chapters are divided by country (countries). At the beginning of each chapter, the author clues us in on "When and How to Serve" and gives us the basics of the pickle recipes of that country or area. Typical ingredients, typical flavors, typical techniques are mentioned and help spur us along and pique our interests.


In the Japan chapter there is a lovely miso recipe, sliced turnips with kombu, Asian pears with lemon and ginger, carrots and horseradish, plus many more. There are even recipes for making your own Umeboshi with apricots and two pickled ginger recipes.

The Korean chapter includes seven kimchi recipes, from cabbage, to radish, to squid, and cucumbers. There are also eight banchan recipes.

The Indian chutney and pickle recipes include produce pickled in oil, an abundance of toasted spices.

The chapter covering Southeast Asian pickles include a (fondly-named) Cock Sauce (a fermented take-off on a favorite hot sauce, without sugar), there is banana ketchup, pickled chiles with lime, and a hot pickled pineapple and peanut recipe.

Hope that is enough said to get your mouth watering--and I think it will if you are a pickle person like me!

*I received a temporary download of the advance copy of this cookbook from the publishers. I've been working with it for weeks now. I can honestly tell you that I will be buying my own copy of this book.
5 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Loved the amount of recipes and the simplicity and ease of finding the ingredients. 11 juin 2014
Par Carla D. - Publié sur
Great book. Contained many fermented vegetables that I love and was only able to get at restaurants. The fact that the book has many different Oriental Countries is wonderful. I have not found a cookbook that is this diverse. Most of them contain simple ingredients that are great for seasonal cooking as they go with other vegetables and plates that are in season. They are simple and straight forward. The summer is coming and my CSA has lots of pickIes coming in. I tried the Miso Pickles and found them superb.
4 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 ...pickle lovers rejoice! 20 juin 2014
Par eyes.2c - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
I have collected several books that give recipes for Asian pickles.
Apart from the varieties of kim chi that I adore, one of my favourite pickles has always been Chinese lemon and lime pickles. I use the lemon pickle with a very tasty Charmaine Solomon (who is my major go to resource and is listed in the bibliography) Sri Lankan Beef Smoore recipe. I have made those pickles and given them away as presents to people who appreciate such things, including my butcher who is constantly experimenting.

Karen Solomon's recipe is slightly different to the one I have used and I am interested in how it will turn out and how I like this different approach from the one I normally use. How will it taste? Roll on enough time for the steeping process.
What I like about this book is Solomon's commitment to using 'all the pots and pans in your cupboard', and no obscure ingredients if possible. In the rare case that this happens she has provided an online source.

If you look at her other works you see that she has published single books on pickles of all the areas listed in this offering. Certainly the photographs used in these past single issues have also been used in this latest book. It would seem this is a compilation of those other 4 books. I can't judge if there is new content added.

The list of pickles is exhaustive. Certainly a book for the aficionado or the rank beginner, or like me the in between.
A great addition to the kitchen! and a great little present for like minded friends.

A NetGalley ARC
5 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Everything You Ever Wanted To Make In Asian Pickles In One Book 11 juin 2014
Par YodaWay - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
I love asian pickled treats. I travel a lot and I search out restaurants and shops with pickled goodies, and books to delight in. Here is a book that focuses on all these delicious asian wonders. The book covers Japan, Korea, China, India and Southeast Asia. I have not found a book so diverse before, it has everything. The recipes seem easy to follow, the ingredients found in most stores.
I started out with the first recipe from Japan the miso pickle. Simple easy to follow direction that turned out fabulous. I have plans to make the wasabi carrots this week. The other countries are very interesting too. I do make a lot of Korean pickles already at home so I didn't get much from that section but it was written very well with well developed flavors.
I collect good fermentation, pickling books and this one now sits on my shelf with many sticky tabs marking recipes that we plan on making. I would recommend this as a good asian style pickle book, you really do get all the major and a few lessor known recipes.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 So Much I Want to Try! 26 juin 2014
Par P. Greer - Publié sur
Format:Format Kindle
Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond
by Karen Solomon begins with an introduction about pickles and pickling.  For those of you that do not like to can, this book is for you!  As she explains, most of these recipes are not for long term storage.  These pickles age and ferment either on your counter or in your fridge.  But they look so good, I don't think trying to keep them for a long time is going to be an issue.

The recipes are divided into 5 sections:  Japan, Korea, China, India, and Southeast Asia.  At the beginning of each section, she explains the basic pickles of that area and how they are served.

Japan:  The Japan section is further divided between Traditional Tsukemono (the Japanese word for pickles) and Inspired Pickles (her twists inspired by Japanese flavors and ingredients.   I've marked to try:  Miso Pickles, Pickled Ginger, Pickled Mustard Greens and Pickled Asian Pear with Lemon.

Korea:  The Korean section of course begins with an intro on Kimchi.  I've marked to try:  Whole Leaf Kimchi, Summer Radish Kimchi, Marinated Bean Sprouts, Pickled Cucumbers, and Spinach with Sesame.

China:  These pickles are a far cry from the standard Chinese takeout food we get at our local restaurant.  I've marked to try:  spicy Blackened Sichuan Pickled Peppers, Salt-Preserved Eggs with Star Anise, Pickled Shallots, Five Spice Pickled Carrots, and Shanghai Cabbage and Chili.

India:  I have to admit that Indian food is not one of my favorites, but I did find a few pickles that sound intriguing.  I've marked to try:  Cauliflower, Onion and Carrot Mixed Pickle, Apples in Mustard with Mint, and Pickled Chickpeas.

Southeast Asia - With my last disclaimer on Indian food, I also must admit that Southeast Asian is my favorite, so I will probably try all of them in this section.  I've marked to try:  Pickled Bean Sprouts, Pickled Chiles with Lime, Cucumber and Shallot Pickles, Thai Pickled Cabbage, and Javanese Carrot and Cucumber Pickle.

The book concludes with a very useful glossary and a resources section.

All in all a great book with which to explore pickles from Asia.  I almost don't know where to begin.  It seems like almost all of the regions have some version of pickled cucumbers or some version of pickled cabbage, so I will probably start there.  It would be fun to have several versions prepared and sample a bit from each one to compare.
You can find out more about Karen Solomon at her author page and more about the book here.
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