The quick pickle. The perfect way to add acidity to a dish.


I remember laughing while watching early seasons of Top Chef because it felt that the constant comment of the judges was, “needs more acid.” At some point, it almost felt that the phrase was used when tasters couldn’t think of anything else to say. But, as I’ve aged and my tastes have definitely changed, I now find myself on an almost constant lookout for acidity in dishes to balance fatty foods and rich sauces.

The Japanese, of course, have long known how important this is. They use sharp acidic sauces to lighten heavy ingredients and masterfully use pickles to both perk up dishes and also keep one from feeling too over-indulgent (or in the extreme, slightly ill from too much rich food). When I was in the US last winter, I noticed that several of the restaurants I went to featured pickle menus — which I am assuming is indicative of a major food trend over there.

At home, my wife and I enjoy making pickles, but as lazy working professionals, we tend to prefer quick pickling methods that basically involve boiling up a pickling solution and pouring it over whatever veggies we’re keen to experiment on. And while we do have a couple pickle books — almost all Japanese — I’ve honestly tested only 2-3 recipes, and all of them the easiest ones.

Below is my current favourite quick pickling method. All of the pickles (save for the Japanese parsley which was simply blanched and then tossed in a bag with chopped wakame and green tea salt) pictured above were made using this method. I sometimes add a bit more flavour by tossing things into the pickle jars with the ingredients (for example, in the above, I added some shio konbu to the beetroot). I made these pickles to serve alongside a nice konbu-dusted, grilled wagyu steak with a pinot noir reduction and bowl of rice course that I served at a recent dinner party. The balance was perfect. And while a decade ago I might have served something rich and fatty with the beef, these days I need the acid.



About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his three kids!