"I don’t want to offend anyone with old-fashioned words, but I think of this as a relish tray–ready, 1960s-housewifestyle “Oriental Pickle.” It could just be that copious amounts of celery conjure those images for me: the vegetable has been typecast with tuna salad and blue cheese dip for far too long. I think it is a sadly unsung vegetable hero, particularly when peeled. But I promise you that all the tangy, sweet, salty, savory flavors of Chinese food are here, with a refreshing crunch."
SOUR CELERY AND RED PEPPER
• TIME: ABOUT 45 MINUTES • MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS •
1 pound celery, trimmed, leaves removed
2 teaspoons peanut oil
8 ounces red bell peppers, cut into long, thin strips
Pinch of kosher salt
4 teaspoons sugar
1⁄2 cup Japanese soy sauce
1⁄2 cup distilled white vinegar
1⁄3 cup cool water
1 teaspoon black sesame oil
Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tough strings from the celery, then slice it at an angle, ¾ inch thick. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and salt and sauté until the bell pepper softens and blackens in spots, 7 to 8 minutes.
Add the bell pepper to the celery, along with the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, water, and sesame oil and stir well. Your pickle is ready to eat, but the flavors will become even better if you wait until the next day. To store, place in canning jars or containers with tight-fitting lids and evenly distribute the brine. (Don’t worry if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid at first; in a day’s time, the liquid level will rise significantly.) Cover and refrigerate; this pickle will keep for at least a month.
(* Reprinted with permission from Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. Photography (c) 2014 by Jennifer Martine...)