Make Ahead

Quick Cucumber and Shiso Pickles

by:
June  7, 2010
Photo by Mark Weinberg
Author Notes

I keep a version of this in the fridge all summer long -- carrots, radishes, cucumbers, onions, celery or any other vegetable available, marinated in vinegar, shiso, mirin, and sugar. But I always, always include cucumbers. They're crisp and cool and perfect as a garnish, summer chutney with fish or chicken, or topping for soba. They can be ready in four hours or four days. I slice the cucumbers on the blade side of a box grater. You can cut them to your liking, I like them thin, like little round silky ribbons. Somehow, there's more umami for me this way. - Teri —Teri

Test Kitchen Notes

Shiso and pickles should hang out more often. The aromatic green leaves give Teri's lightly sweet pickles a fresh, herbaceous lift, reminiscent of cinnamon, cloves and ginger all at once. Because the pickling liquid is left cold, the delicate coins of Japanese cucumber retain a satisfying bite, even after several hours in the refrigerator. The pickles would be great with a light, summery fish dish. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves summer a little cooler.
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon salt, preferrably sea or kosher
  • 5 Japanese cucumbers, or 2 English cucumbers
  • 8 shiso leaves (or substitute basil)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Put sugar, vinegar, mirin and salt into a non-reactive bowl. Whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
  2. Slice cucumbers as thinly as possible. (To seed or not is up to you and what you found at the market. With the skinny Japanese cukes or the English version, you should be okay without removing the seeds.)
  3. Gather the shiso leaves like a deck of cards, roll into a tube and slice, chiffonade-style, like you would with basil.
  4. Add cucumbers and shiso to the marinade and stir. Try to cover the vegetables with the marinade. It's okay if the liquid doesn't submerge the cucumbers. They will break down and get smaller as they marinate.
  5. Put the mix in the fridge and let marinate for at least 4 hours. Mix a couple of times if you can, but it's okay if you don't. Once pointed in the right direction, cucumbers tend to take care of themselves.
  6. Serve, icy cold out of the fridge if you can.
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