I thought I’d pickle some cucumbers.
I found the thought and the anticipation vaguely satisfying.
I could see it in my head. De-seeding the cucumbers, slicing them, salting them, and then drizzling them with lime juice.
It was soothing.
Have I discovered pickling therapy? 🙂
My father taught me how to make instant cucumber pickles. When you just want something light, tangy, and even cool, instant pickled cucumbers were great.
Peeling cucumbers is easy with a basic peeler. Unlike peeling potatoes, cucumbers are easier, cleaner, and feels good. Potatoes aren’t as fun. And even if you washed them, it can still feel rough. And raw potato juice isn’t very enticing.
But peeling cucumbers is calming. Soothing. Even meditative. (I know. It’s silly to make it out to be a religious experience, but this is just me.)
You can be a little lazy or careless and miss a line or two of cucumber skin. It would still be presentable. Even edible. Less so with potatoes.
So after peeling the cucumbers I slice it in half, and then each half into thirds lengthwise.
To de-seed the cucumbers, I cut the lengthwise slices under the seeds at an angle, and the on the other side under the seeds to meet the first cut in a “V”. Then the strip of seeds should just fall off. Then I slice them at an angle to make short pointy shards. If you like it salty, sprinkle salt and let it rest for about 30 minutes. This will draw out some water from the cucumbers. Drain it.
Squeeze lime juice onto the cucumbers and mix well.
My father would also add ground up shrimps to the cucumbers. These are rehydrated dried shrimps (soak the dried shrimps in hot water, then ground them in a mortar and pestle.)
If you don’t have dried shrimps, you could use canned tuna (in brine or water), or crab sticks (surimi) shredded and minced.
Or just have the cucumbers with lime juice, and maybe a little salt for a tangy (maybe even salty) pickle. Or if you have a sweet tooth, replace the salt with sugar.
Little slices of chillis could work too for some heat.
This “instant” pickles can be ready immediately (without the salting and “sweating” of the cucumbers). At it’s most basic, it’s just sliced cucumbers in lime juice, and you add variations thereafter.
The other pickling approach is to prepare some pickling solution. Salt, Sugar, vinegar in water. Substitute lime or lemon juice for the vinegar. Or in addition to it. Add some spices – black pepper, sze chuan pepper corns, chilli, etc. I had a bottle of “Moroccan Spice – Cinnamon, Turmeric, Peppercorn, Nutmeg, Cardamon and cloves. I didn’t have any objection to any of the spices, so I added them into the pickling liquid. Add water to top it all off (for a milder pickle) or top off with vinegar and juices if you really like the pickles to scrunch up your face with every bite.
For these cucumbers I kept the skin on, and sliced them in half-lengths – about half the length of the cucumber. This let them fit nicely in my pickle jar. I wanted to add carrots, but, two cucumbers filled my jar. So I left out the carrots.
I put a little less salt this time (the last time it was a little too salty for my taste, but with pickles, there actually isn’t too salty or too sour/tangy. This was a little sweeter, which I like.