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Using Your Noodle

The Science of Homemade

by Bill Hettig, Master Brine Pickler 

© 2011, Perfect Pickler, Inc.

 

We’ve been busy in the test kitchens using our “noodles*” to combine new veggies and a new way to serve up this month’s topic—Pickled Noodle Veggies

Pickles excite a dish—acting as a condiment ... as a flavor booster to starchy tasting staples. They lift with so little effort. 

But what if we took condiments to another level and create a meal-maker quality pickle? What would it look like? What would it do in the meal? What the heck is a meal-maker pickle!? I shall explain, all in good time, dear reader....

Let’s start with introductions to another group of veggies I found in Asian markets. These veggies are inexpensive and offer noodle shapes along with a neutral taste—perfect for spicing and flavoring with any world cuisine in mind. Combine them with the four stars in last month's newsletter and you have the makings of a new noodle shop in your kitchen.

Let’s meet up with a couple of old world veggies

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Green Papaya

Is a staple in S.E. Asian markets. In its green and unripened state it has a taste in the summer squash zone. When shopping, a green (unripe) papaya is hard to tell from a ripe one—ripe papaya can have green skin— so ask your grocer. They are usually labeled "Green Papaya." We want the flesh to be firm, light yellow, and the seeds to be white. If the seeds are black or the skin is pink, it’s too ripe for pickling and best allowed to ripen fully and used as a fruit. Some Asian markets sell it pre-shredded! It’s inexpensive and the texture is like a soft slaw, still has a little tooth. Use them to make either a slaw or a brine pickle recipe. 

Recipe: I use green papaya for a quick, pickled noodle dish, I call Rogan Josh. To make a quart, buy at least a 1-1/4 pounds of green papaya. Peel, seed, and use a julienne peeler to create noodles (see below). Mix with scallions or chives, garlic, grated ginger, and a tsp. or two of a northern Indian spice blend called "Rogan Josh" (penzeys.com). Press and squeeze with a scant TBS. ground sea salt to create a moist slaw consistency and then pickle like you would making slaw/kraut in the Perfect Pickler®. Don’t have Rogan Josh spice blend? Use another—curry, or jerk—something to sharpen the bland flavor or the papaya.

This finished pickled noodle becomes a meal-maker starter in your fridge. Here’s one way to bloom it into a meal: 

Recipe: Toss with cold pasta, fresh herbs, a splash of neutral flavored oil, and a good squeeze of lime juice. Got some leftover protein? Dice and toss in.

If you would like to use it as a hot dish, add the pickle to the dish off heat, and toss to warm it. That will preserve the live cultures and enzymes.

Other meal-maker variation: Serve mixed with cold rice as a salad tossed with a vinaigrette, topped with toasted seeds or chopped nuts. Serve with chopped cilantro.

 

Bamboo Shoot Noodles

While you’re at the Asian market you might as well pick up a package of bamboo shoot noodles. POW! What a find and a eureka moment for playing with this food in a brine. It is usually found in the cooler and is ready to use—no tools necessary.  It acts, tastes and loves to be a pickled noodle with any flavors you toss at it. Think outside the box and add them to a recipe where you want to twirl your pickle and chew it’s supple texture. Bamboo shoots come in several forms, and I found noodles to be the easiest in the meal-maker’s kitchen. 

Meal-Maker Pickle

If you have been a careful reader you would have come across this topic in the prior recipe section. Here’s the concept—what if we up the importance of the pickle in the meal? Instead of a condiment it becomes the major lift of the dish? Pickles are already naturally powered by the flavors of sour and salt. Then, add in a spice blend of choice, and some alliums—onion, garlic, chives—and after a few days of pickling, you have a quart or more of a meal-maker at the ready, where a small amount can be tossed with a large dish of noodles or rice and served warm or cold. Top with a flavored oil, fresh herbs,  some leftover protein, toasted seeds or nuts, a squeeze of citrus and you have a main dish with minimum effort. Take your spice blend from wherever you want in the world.

You now have a sense of our new world of old world pickling here at Perfect Pickler. It's not just about our pickling apparatus, it's about making fresh, new pickle recipes with old world sensibility. We teach you to make food that turns the processed food into renatured, tasty meals. We will have a lot coming at you, dear pickler...

A great big extra benefit to meal-maker pickles is we include live-cultured food, rich in enzymes to our meal and this is a good thing. Those peoples that live longest have added probiotic rich foods to their everyday meal. Think of adding billions of beneficial bacteria to nearly every meal. It's tasty, it's food, it's new-found wisdom for putting some life into our modern diet.

Bonus Round: Noodle Making Tools

 Now that you’re getting into the twist-and-shout mode of pickle making, we are going to put some tools in your hand and make noodles out of a lot more veggies. Prepare your kitchen for a noodle shop! 

One of my go-to tools for making shreds and noodles is the julienne peeler. (OXO is a good choice—for under $9.) It works great on hard root veggies as well as summer squash, chayote, and jicama). Use it like a peeler, the tool takes care of the rest. Photo is below.

svs.jpgThe other is an investment grade tool, the spiral vegetable slicer ($34. amazon.com). You are going to love this gadget. And you will look a little like an organ grinder turning the handle (...play some accordion music while using). You’ll love the curleycue noodles. Are you seeing the fun in this yet?!

 

 

 

 

Rendering Veggie Noodles for the Brine

You can manipulate the texture of certain raw veggie noodles, so they better approximate the pasta noodle. Here’s how:

For winter squash:

You need to  simmer the noodles in water for a minute or two—until just al dente then shock in cold water. 

asian-slaw.jpgRecipe: I created a butternut squash noodle pickle with grated ginger, sliced scallions, and 6-7 whole star anise per quart. (The raw scallions “seed” the brine with the starter microbes). BUT, it’s nice to add a couple tablespoons of aged brine—from a prior batch of any brine pickle) to the mix. This is a simple, delightful recipe. 

 

 

Meal-Maker Starter Recipe: Toss with cooked noodles or rice, or mung bean sprouts, top with cilantro, chili flakes, some poached shrimp, scallops, or tofu, a squeeze of citrus, chopped peanuts or toasted sesame seeds. Serve warm or cold. Mmmm......

For summer squash:

Put the summer squash noodles in a colander and lightly salt with inexpensive sea salt. Toss, and after 30 minutes, rinse well. Use a 1/2 tsp. less salt when making up the brine. -- If the squash are young with thin skins, you can leave unpeeled for two-tone noodles. If older and thick skinned, peel leaving thin gaps of peel to achieve a striped effect. Here's another value: baseball bat sized zucchini make a lot of pickling noodles. Yet the farmers market has them at steep mark-down prices. 

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     Daikon & Golden Beets - Zucchini & Tomatillos 

 

 

* Noodlin' Around

 

As a lad being introduced and treated to canned, instant meals in the 50’s, I had a love affair with Chef Boyardee’s spaghetti and meatballs. My brother and I would fork in a mouthful of that rubbery, tomatoey concoction and attested our joy in unison, “Chef! Boy are dees good!” Mom’s rejoinder was on autopilot... “That’s using the noodles, boys...”

... and I hope this will be using your noodles, dear picklers.........

© 2011, Perfect Pickler, Inc. All rights reserves. Contact Bill Hettig @ bill@perfectpickler.com 

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