My cookbook, My Shanghai: recipes and stories from a city on the waterAbout homemade Chinese food from a family from Shanghai – Food Mine Family. While Shanghai cuisine is often described as sweet, to do so is to simplify the region’s flair. Instead, the kitchen focuses on the liveliness of the ingredients. In my book, I highlight the rich abundance of produce found in and around Shanghai, fed by the Yangtze River, the longest river in China. Its tributaries crisscross across the region, creating not only picturesque water cities but also a fertile land full of vibrant products.
This recipe, pickled soy radish, is an excellent example of a seemingly simple dish that thanks to careful and deliberate preparation, full of flavor, the fermentation extracts the sweet notes of radish. This tangy, crunchy pickle is meant forKai Wei, Which means “open your appetite,” but I find myself sneaking into bites throughout the meal, or even as an off-meal snack. It is delicious as a part of pickle with breakfast CongeeIn fact, sometimes I have plain kunji with just that pickled soy radish. It’s hard to resist touching a dikon for a couple of days, but the resulting pickle is worth it: tasty yet sweet, tangy and crunchy.
This is what you do: Choose Daikon radish that is white and firm, without visible holes or discoloration. I’m looking for sturdy little radishes that are about 2 inches in diameter and 9 inches long. You don’t have to exfoliate it, the skin peels off beautifully and holds the pills together, but if there are any bruises or “hair” growing out, you can exfoliate this part.
After washing them, chop the ends, shake them and slice ¼ ” 1 tsp. Kosher salt Let it rest for 30 minutes. Rinse, strain, and stir 1 tsp. Granulated sugar This time, then leave it for another half hour. Do this two more times, rinsing and drying between each step, for a total of three turns of salt and sugar. This process gets rid of the raw decon with its spicy and bitter taste, leaving behind deep floral notes.
After rinsing and drying for the last time, squeeze Daikon a little to get rid of any excess liquid. Now, place the slices in a clean, non-reactive container. Next, make a brine from light soy sauce, rice vinegar, black vinegar, and sugar. For 1 daikon, I use approx Half a cup of light soy sauceAnd the 2 tbsp. Rice vinegarAnd the 1 tablespoon. Black vinegar, And the 2 tbsp. Sugar. However, the proportions can be turned on to suit your preference. I like tangy pickles, but if you want a more salty pickle, add more soy sauce or reduce the amount of sugar. Stir together to melt the sugar, then pour this mixture over the radish and add enough boiled and then cooled water to the bowl until the daikon slices are covered (usually about half a cup). Leave it in the refrigerator for at least two days. Pickles will keep (and get stronger in flavor) in the fridge for up to a month.
When I was choosing which recipes to include in my book, I deliberately chose recipes that could be prepared at home, for all levels, and I particularly wanted to include recipes that make the constant rotation of my kitchen. This is definitely one of them.
Partially adapted from MY SHANGHAI by Betty Liu. Copyright © 2021 by Betty Liu. Published by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted with permission.