Terri Lee's Soy Sauce Pickled Jalapeños

Terri Lee is a product and event designer who sometimes collaborates with Sweets & Bitters. 

Photo: Megan Swann for Sweets & Bitters

Photo: Megan Swann for Sweets & Bitters

My mom has a series of recipes she created out of ingredients common in the US when Korean produce was nearly impossible to find.  She wanted to create something that resembled the flavors she remembered from her native country. While this isn’t a traditional recipe, it’s one of my favorites. The flavors blend so perfectly and the pickled jalapeños work as an accent on many different dishes. I always have a jar in the refrigerator just waiting to add a little kick to my cooking.

 

Soy Sauce Pickled Jalapeños

Makes 1 pint

  • 15 jalapeños
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 shallots
  • ½ c. soy sauce or tamari 
  • ½ c. rice vinegar
  • ½ c superfine sugar

 

1. This can be prepared right in a standard pint sized mason jar. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar. Stir with a spoon to dissolve the sugar (or just cap the lid and swirl).

2. Cut the limes into thin slices, reserving the ends. Set aside the slices. Squeeze the juice from the ends of the limes into the jar. Peel and slice the shallots into thin rounds. Set aside. Cut the cilantro into short 2-3” stems with leaves intact. Set aside.

3. Now prepare the jalapeños. I wear a pair of cooking gloves to keep the spice from soaking into my hands. (If I don’t, I inevitably end up rubbing my eyes and highly regret it). Seed jalapenos and slice into thin rings. A few renegade seeds are okay if you like a little extra kick. Set aside.

4. Give the brine mix another quick swirl and then start layering your ingredients. Start with one layer of limes, then add cilantro, shallots, jalapeños, shallots, cilantro and back to lime. (Think palindrome). You want to end on limes. Once you have it packed and limes are on top keeping all the ingredients in the brine, cap and refrigerate.

5. It’s best if you can let these sit in your refrigerator for 2-3 days. The tighter the ingredients are packed—the spicier it will become and will take a few more days to pickle (approx 5 days). You can add more brine if you want a less spicy version.

 

Notes: After the flavors have blended, use the pickle brine in place of vinegar for a salad dressing. Or add peeled hard-boiled eggs to the brine once there’s enough room (usually when the jalapeños are nearly gone). Let it sit for 2-3 days. It soaks in the flavors of the brine and makes a delicious pickled egg. Slice the egg thin and add it to a salad or on an open faced sandwich.

 

 

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Pickled Jalapeños (Mexican style)

Pickled Jalapeños

 

You know those little orange cans with the glamorous Mexican lady offering pickled peppers? They are one of the best things you can buy in a bodega. I love the can’s cheery kitsch, and the pickles are as good with a hasty breakfast of eggs and leftover rice as with tacos or burritos. (They get an honorable mention in the latest edition of Sweets & Bitters Quarterly, Corner Store Entertaining.)

There’s nothing wrong with opening one of those cans, but you can make pickled jalapeños from scratch really easily. The advantages of cooking your own are that you can add other vegetables–cauliflower, radishes, young turnips–and the sense of pride that you get from making something yourself.

I’m going to give you a recipe, but you don’t need one. Just slice some carrots and pierce some jalapeños (so the brine gets inside, and so they don't squirt you in the eye when you bite them). Put them in pot and cover them with equal parts of water and vinegar. Season the brine with salt and sugar, and a handful of pickling spice if you have it. Garlic is good too. Some people drizzle in a bit of olive oil. Bring it all to a boil and simmer it until the peppers change color. That's it. Now put everything in glass jars, refrigerate them, and wait at least a day (three is better) before eating the pickles.

Pickled Jalapeños

makes 2 quarts

  • 8 medium carrots
  • 15 jalapeños
  • 12 cloves (1 bulb) garlic, peeled
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups apple cider or white vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt*
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons pickling spice
  • (or 1 Tablespoon peppercorns and a cinnamon stick)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

Wash the carrots and jalapeños. Slice the carrots into ¼ thick rounds. Pierce each jalapeño.

Put everything in a large non-reactive pot. If the vegetables aren’t covered, add a little more liquid. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the jalapenos change color (from bright green to olive green). Scoop the vegetables into clean glass jars, then cover them with brine. Seal and refrigerate.

*Iodized table salt contains anti-caking agents that will cloud  brine. Also, due to the crystal size it’s nearly twice as much salt per volume as kosher salt. You can use table salt if you don’t mind cloudy brine, but use half as much.