January 5, 2010

Momofuku Pickles

My new years resolution is to post more often. I know I have been a slacker these past months with my infrequent posts. I vow to return to the kitchen soon, armed with the dozens of empty jars awaiting me in my garage.
I just returned from New York where I ate some fantastic food, the most exciting at chef David Chang's Momofuku dynasty. I ate at both Ssan Bar and Noodle House in the East Village and even managed to squeeze in a stop at Milk Bar for the ice cream which my daughter and I fought over despite the sub-zero weather. The cereal milk  soft serve ice cream truly is off the hook and worthy of all the praise heaped on it. The chocolate chip, marshmallow, cornflake cookies were insane and I don't even like cookies. Just the right balance of crispy, chewy, salty and sweet without being the least bit cloying.

Pictured above are the pickles from Noodle House, on the menu as a starter. Served in a mason jar, I'll take them any day over a bread basket. Let's start a new movement, pickles instead of bread. Who wants to fill up on dough before a good meal? Pickles pique the appetite without dulling it. 
Fresh, crisp and crunchy the Momofuku pickles are delish, the flavor of each vegetable distinct. The waitress told me each vegetable is brined individually and then combined for serving.

Using rice vinegar as opposed to cider or wine vinegar, produces a delicate brine that doesn't overwhelm and allows each vegetable to sing. Asian pickles are my new obsession, they are light, sweet, and tangy, perfect for the new year.

  • These are refrigerator pickles and therefore require no hot water bath or cooking. 
  • Each vegetable except the beets has a different spice to accompany it.
  • This is a technique that invites experimentation, try different vegetables and spices using what you have on hand.
  • I found the vegetables needed varying amounts of time to set up, depending on their size and density.
  • Shichimi togarashi is Japanese 7-spice blend that typically includes red chile flakes, dried orange peel, white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, nori , poppy seeds and ginger.
Below is David Chang's recipe as published in 2007 in Gourmet Magazine.

  • 2 medium beets (1/2 pound total), trimmed
  • 4 bunches baby carrots (1 pound), peeled and stems trimmed to 1/2 inch
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, toasted
  • 3 celery ribs, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 small head cauliflower, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch florets
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend)
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups rice vinegar (not seasoned; 12 fluid ounces)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt


  1.  Peel beets, then cut into very thin slices (less than 1/8 inch) with slicer and transfer to a nonreactive heatproof bowl. 
  2. In separate nonreactive heatproof bowls, combine carrots with caraway seeds, celery with coriander seeds, and cauliflower with shichimi togarashi.
  3. Meanwhile, bring water, vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a large nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved. 
  4. Remove from heat and pour 1 1/2 cups hot brine over beets, 2 cups over carrots, 2 cups over celery, and remaining liquid over cauliflower.
  5. Cool to room temperature, stirring and pressing vegetables down occasionally (or keep them submerged with a small plate). 
  6. Transfer each vegetable with pickling liquid to a separate airtight container and chill, covered, shaking occasionally, at least 1 week. Serve using a slotted spoon.


  1. All look delicious!

    Couple questions:

    1) Is there a reason the vegs have to steep in bowls before being transferred to jars? Couldn't they just have brine poured over them directly in jars?

    2) Could these be water-bath processed for long-term storage?

  2. Good Questions!

    1)Steeping in the bowls is recommended as the plate on top keeps the veggies completely submerged allowing them to absorb the brine. In jars they can float to the top and be exposed to oxygen.
    2)These are refrigerator pickles and by nature are supposed to be crispy and crunchy. You would loose that characteristic with cooking.

    Hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for posting the recipe and such extensive notes. I can't wait to try it! I love the idea of serving the pickles in the jar, i have done a pickle plate before but this seems like a much nicer presentation! -- Talia

  4. Talia,

    I just checked out your blog! Love love love your CAT-CAN photo. Divine. happy canning, see you in the the round up.

  5. Nina: Just saw your comment... so glad you liked the photo! And yes, see you in the round up... its soon now!! --Talia