Mash-Up Monday #1 - Early Review & Recipe | Asian Pickles by Karen Solomon

Hello everyone and happy Monday!

This first week of June was seriously intense at work & only going to further its intenseness so if I seem a bit lost in June - you were forewarned.

So, I received this advanced copy on net galley in exchange for an honest review. (disclaimer and all that)

This isn't going to be a typical review as seen in previous posts. Mostly, I just wanted to let you know that I genuinely liked it. Had I seen it at Barnes & Noble or online at Amazon or, I would still have purchased it. I think it is a great book for beginners as it does a great job at giving little tips and tricks, along with simple-to-follow recipes. I also like that it covers a semi-wide range of countries - Chine, Korea, Indonesia, Japan and other countries.
Granted, this is an Asian pickling book so you are going to see items that you might not be familiar with. Luckily, there seems to be an Oriental Market in almost every big city in the US... if not five.
The only down side to this book is that there were not as many pictures as I would like. When it comes to cooking books/magazines, I need to see those pictures! To me, cooking is such a sensual experience and your eyes are a big part of this - especially when you are attempting a recipe you haven't made before.

Basic info about this book:

Name: Asian Pickles
Author: Karen Solomon
Publishing Company: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Cooking, Food & Wine
Rating (out of 5): 4.0

Recommend? Yes

Where it can be purchased:

Author's website:
Author on goodreads:   goodreads

And now I can share with you one of the recipes that intrigued me the most in the cookbook:

Pickled Asian Pear with Lemon
Adapted from Asian Pickles cookbook by Karen Solomon

Ingredient List
2 pounds Asian Pears (about 4 pears and can be substituted for any firm, sweet pear)
1 1/2 cups White Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
4 (2-inch) pieces of Lemon Zest
1 cup White Wine Vinegar
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1 teaspoon Ground Ginger - the original recipe calls for 4 slices of pickles ginger but my honey & I aren't big fans. We tried it with the powdered ginger and loved the turnout. Might use a tablespoon of ground ginger next time, though.

Start off by peeling and cutting your pears into quarters.
Then, core them.

Set them aside.

I really wanted a good picture here so you could see how I got those strips of lemon zest - the trick is to use a peeler! If you don't have one, use your knife but be careful of having too much white pith as it can cause your liquid to become bitter.

Now, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger, sugar, salt, vinegar, mirin, and ground ginger in a sauce pan. 
Whisk together and place cut/quartered pears in this brining liquid.

In the mean time, fill another sauce pot with water and bring to a boil (about 2 quarts should be enough here).
As the water comes to a boil, add the pears with a slotted spoon. Here, you want to make sure to leave as much brine behind, as possible. DO NOT DISCARD BRINE as we will come back to this, later.

Reducing the heat to create a simmer.
Now simmer the pears for 8-10 minutes. The initial recipe post said this would take roughly 6 minutes. I found that after the initial 6, the pears needed more time. 

You want to make sure that the pears are able to be pierced by a fork but not mushy. They are going to continue cooking after they are taken out of the water so if they are a little on the firm side after those initial 8 minutes, it's OK.

After the pears are cooked, be sure to drain them and transfer them to your vessel of choice.
Karen recommends 2 clean 1-pint jars though I used the only one I had available - 1 2-quart jar. Oops.

Set aside.
Going back to the brining liquid, bring to a boil, stirring semi-frequently to help dissolve the sugar. Approximately 2 minutes.

As soon as it starts to boil, you can take the liquid off the heat and divide the liquid -and its contents- evenly among both jars or simply place it all into one jar as I did.
If you happen to have any leftover brining liquid, Solomon recommends combining it with your favorite salad oil and creating an easy vinaigrette for your next salad.

As soon as you finish pouring your brining liquid over your pears, tighten the lid and let sit outside in room temperature for 24 hours and then placing them in the refrigerator.
Solomon says that they will keep their flavor for a month while kept in the refrigerator and the color of the pears/liquid will begin to change after two weeks.
Solomon also recommends eating them after 5 days though you are able to begin chowing down after 3... Needless to say, I only waited 3 days and oh man were these pears delicious!

What can you eat these with?
Salad with lemon vinaigrette, chicken, roasted pork, chicken salad sandwiches - you name it!

And there you have it - Pickled Asian Pears with lemon :)

Thank you for sticking 'til the end of our first Mash-Up Monday with a recipe && a book review in one! Hope you enjoyed it & we'll be talking soon.

Until next time, here is where you can find me on the interwebz:


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