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Level Up Your Side Dishes with Chinese Pickled Cucumber Recipe

If you're looking for a quick and easy way to add some zing to your meals, Chinese pickled cucumbers are a great option. This classic side dish and appetizer is a staple in Chinese cuisine and is perfect for adding a refreshing touch to rice, congee, and noodle soup.

Fresh cucumbers being sliced and mixed with vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Ginger and garlic added for flavor

To make Chinese pickled cucumbers, you'll need to start by choosing the right cucumbers. Look for small, firm cucumbers with thin skin, as these will be the crunchiest and most flavourful. Once you have your cucumbers, you'll need to prepare them by washing, trimming the ends, and slicing them into thin rounds or strips.

Next, it's time to create the pickling brine. This typically involves combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and a variety of spices and seasonings, such as garlic, ginger, and chilli flakes. Once you've mixed your brine, simply toss your cucumbers in the mixture and let them marinate for at least an hour in the fridge. The longer you let them sit, the more flavourful they'll become.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right cucumbers is key to making delicious pickled cucumbers.
  • Preparing the cucumbers involves washing, trimming, and slicing them into thin rounds or strips.
  • Creating the pickling brine involves combining soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and various spices and seasonings.

Choosing the Right Cucumbers

A hand reaches for fresh cucumbers at a market. A jar of pickling liquid sits nearby, with spices and herbs scattered around

When it comes to making Chinese pickled cucumbers, selecting the right cucumbers is crucial to achieving the perfect balance of flavours. Here are some tips to help you choose the best cucumbers for your recipe.

Types of Cucumbers

There are several types of cucumbers available in the market, but not all of them are suitable for pickling. Here are some of the most commonly used cucumbers in Chinese pickled cucumber recipes:

  • English cucumbers: These cucumbers are long and slender with a thin skin and few seeds. They are a good choice for pickling because they have a mild flavour and a tender texture.

  • Persian cucumbers: These cucumbers are small and seedless with a thin skin. They are a good choice for pickling because they have a sweet flavour and a crisp texture.

  • Kirby cucumbers: These cucumbers are small and bumpy with a thick skin and many seeds. They are a good choice for pickling because they have a strong flavour and a firm texture.

  • Mini cucumbers: These cucumbers are small and slender with a thin skin and few seeds. They are a good choice for pickling because they have a mild flavour and a tender texture.

Quality and Freshness

No matter which type of cucumber you choose, it is important to select cucumbers that are fresh and of good quality. Here are some tips to help you choose the best cucumbers:

  • Look for firm cucumbers: Cucumbers that are soft or wrinkled are not fresh and will not make good pickles.

  • Check the colour: Cucumbers should be a bright, uniform colour. Avoid cucumbers that are yellow or have brown spots.

  • Smell the cucumbers: Fresh cucumbers should have a mild, fresh scent. If they smell sour or musty, they are not fresh.

  • Avoid waxed cucumbers: Some cucumbers are coated in wax to make them last longer. These cucumbers are not suitable for pickling as the wax will prevent the pickling liquid from penetrating the cucumber.

By following these tips, you can choose the best cucumbers for your Chinese pickled cucumber recipe and ensure that your pickles turn out delicious and flavourful.

Preparing the Cucumbers

Cucumbers being sliced and mixed with vinegar, salt, sugar, and spices in a glass jar

Before you start pickling the cucumbers, you need to prepare them properly. Here are the steps you need to follow:

Washing and Draining

The first step is to wash the cucumbers thoroughly under running water. Make sure to remove any dirt or debris from the skin. Then, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel.

Next, you need to drain the excess water from the cucumbers. To do this, slice the cucumbers into thin rounds or spears and place them in a colander. Sprinkle some salt over the cucumbers and toss them to coat evenly. Let them sit for about 30 minutes to an hour, until they release their water.

Smashing for Flavour

If you want your pickled cucumbers to have a deeper flavour, you can smash them lightly before pickling. To do this, place the drained cucumbers in a plastic bag and gently smash them with a rolling pin or a meat mallet. Don't smash them too hard, or they will turn to mush.

By smashing the cucumbers, you help them absorb the pickling liquid better, resulting in a more flavourful and crisp pickle.

Once you have prepared the cucumbers, you can proceed to the pickling process. Remember, the key to a good pickle is to use fresh and crisp cucumbers and to drain the excess water properly.

Creating the Pickling Brine

Cucumbers, garlic, and spices are being mixed in a large bowl of brine. Vinegar and sugar are added, creating the pickling solution

When it comes to making Chinese pickled cucumbers, the pickling brine is a key component. It's what gives the cucumbers their tangy, sweet, and salty flavour. Here are some tips to help you create the perfect pickling brine.

Balancing the Flavours

To create a delicious pickling brine, you need to balance the flavours of salt, sugar, vinegar, and soy sauce. You can adjust the amounts of each ingredient to suit your taste. A good starting point is to use 2-3 tablespoons of salt, 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1/4 cup of soy sauce for every 4-5 cucumbers.

You can also add other ingredients to the pickling brine to enhance the flavour. Garlic, sesame oil, and spices like Sichuan pepper can add depth and complexity to the brine. Chili peppers can give the cucumbers a spicy kick.

Choosing the Vinegar

The type of vinegar you use in your pickling brine can make a big difference in the flavour of your pickled cucumbers. Rice vinegar is a common choice for Chinese pickled cucumbers, but you can also use black vinegar or white vinegar. Each type of vinegar has a slightly different flavour profile, so experiment to find the one you like best.

Here's a table summarizing the different types of vinegar and their characteristics:

Vinegar Type Characteristics
Rice Vinegar Mild, slightly sweet
Black Vinegar Rich, slightly smoky
White Vinegar Sharp, acidic

The key to creating a delicious pickling brine is to balance the flavours and experiment with different ingredients until you find the perfect combination for your taste.

Pickling and Storage

Fresh cucumbers being sliced and placed in a jar with vinegar, salt, and spices. The jar is then sealed and stored for pickling

Combining Ingredients

To pickle cucumbers, you need to combine the right ingredients in a bowl. The ingredients usually include sugar, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and chili peppers. You can adjust the amount of each ingredient according to your taste. For example, if you prefer a sweeter taste, you can add more sugar. Mix the ingredients well until the sugar and salt are dissolved.

Refrigeration and Marination

After combining the ingredients, add the sliced cucumbers to the bowl and toss them well. Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour. During this time, the cucumbers will absorb the flavour of the marinade and become soft and crunchy.

When you are ready to eat the pickled cucumbers, take the bowl out of the fridge and give it a quick stir. You can either serve the cucumbers immediately or store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Make sure to keep the cucumbers submerged in the marinade to prevent them from drying out.

Pickling cucumbers is a simple and delicious way to add flavour to your meals. With just a few ingredients and some refrigeration time, you can enjoy the tangy and sweet taste of pickled cucumbers.

Serving Suggestions

A bowl of sliced cucumbers in a tangy, vinegary marinade, garnished with sesame seeds and chopped scallions

As a Side Dish

Chinese pickled cucumbers make a great side dish to any meal. They are refreshing and crunchy, and their tangy flavour complements any dish. You can serve them as they are or add them to a salad for added texture and flavour. They are also great as a snack on their own.

Here's a quick and easy recipe for a Chinese cucumber salad that you can make using pickled cucumbers:

Chinese Cucumber Salad Recipe

  • 2 cups Chinese pickled cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the chopped pickled cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion, and chopped cilantro.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar.
  3. Pour the dressing over the cucumber mixture and toss to coat.
  4. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Incorporating into Meals

Chinese pickled cucumbers are very versatile and can be incorporated into many meals. They are a great addition to noodle dishes, congee, and stir-fries. You can also use them as a topping for sandwiches or burgers. Here are a few ideas:

  • Add them to your favourite noodle soup for added crunch and flavour.
  • Use them as a topping for your next burger or sandwich instead of pickles.
  • Serve them alongside your favourite stir-fry for added texture and flavour.
  • Use them as a meal prep ingredient and add them to your lunch box for a healthy snack.

Chinese pickled cucumbers are a great addition to any meal. They are easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. Try them out and see how they can elevate your next meal!

Nutritional Information

A bowl of Chinese pickled cucumbers, surrounded by ingredients like vinegar, sugar, and salt. A recipe card with nutritional information is placed next to the bowl

If you're looking for a healthy snack, Chinese pickled cucumbers might be your answer. These cucumbers are low in calories and high in nutrients, making them a great addition to your diet.

Here is a breakdown of the nutritional information for Chinese pickled cucumbers:

  • Calories: A serving of Chinese pickled cucumbers contains around 29 calories [1]. This makes them an excellent snack option if you're watching your calorie intake.

  • Carbohydrates: Chinese pickled cucumbers are a good source of carbohydrates, with around 6 grams per serving [2]. This makes them a great option for a pre-workout snack, as carbohydrates are an important source of energy.

  • Protein: While Chinese pickled cucumbers are not a significant source of protein, they do contain around 1 gram per serving [2]. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, so every little bit counts.

  • Sodium: Chinese pickled cucumbers are relatively high in sodium, with around 100 mg per serving [1]. If you're watching your sodium intake, you may want to limit your consumption of these cucumbers.

  • Potassium: Chinese pickled cucumbers are a good source of potassium, with around 200 mg per serving [3]. Potassium is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure and regulating fluid balance in the body.

  • Calcium: While Chinese pickled cucumbers are not a significant source of calcium, they do contain small amounts of this important mineral. Calcium is essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth.

  • Vitamin A: Chinese pickled cucumbers are not a significant source of vitamin A.

  • Vitamin C: Chinese pickled cucumbers are a good source of vitamin C, with around 10% of your daily recommended intake per serving [1]. Vitamin C is important for maintaining a healthy immune system and promoting healthy skin.

  • Iron: Chinese pickled cucumbers are not a significant source of iron.

Overall, Chinese pickled cucumbers are a healthy and delicious snack option that can help you meet your daily nutritional needs. Just be mindful of their sodium content if you're watching your salt intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the simplest way to make Chinese pickled cucumbers?

The simplest way to make Chinese pickled cucumbers is to slice the cucumbers, mix them with salt, and let them sit for 30 minutes. Afterward, rinse the cucumbers and mix them with sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Store the mixture in a jar and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. For a more detailed recipe, check out The Woks of Life's recipe.

How do you prepare Chinese-style spicy pickled cucumbers?

To prepare Chinese-style spicy pickled cucumbers, add sliced cucumbers, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and Sichuan peppercorns to a jar. In a separate bowl, mix together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved. Pour the mixture into the jar with the cucumbers and spices. Seal the jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. For a more detailed recipe, check out Omnivore's Cookbook's recipe.

What are the key ingredients for authentic Chinese pickled cucumbers?

The key ingredients for authentic Chinese pickled cucumbers are cucumbers, salt, sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Some recipes may also include garlic, ginger, or chili pepper flakes for added flavor and spice.

How long can you keep a jar of homemade Chinese pickled cucumbers?

You can keep a jar of homemade Chinese pickled cucumbers in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It's important to note that the longer the cucumbers sit in the pickling liquid, the softer they will become.

Why is saltwater soaking important before pickling cucumbers?

Saltwater soaking is important before pickling cucumbers because it helps to draw out excess moisture from the cucumbers and makes them more crisp. It also helps to remove any bitterness from the cucumbers.

What characteristics define the best cucumbers for pickling?

The best cucumbers for pickling are firm, crisp, and have thin skins. English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers are ideal for pickling because they have less seeds and a milder flavor. It's also important to choose cucumbers that are of similar size so that they pickle evenly.