I love pickles and ferments and so I always rejoice at how varied the range of them was at Russian food markets: traditional Siberian pickling techniques go hand in hand with (adapted) Korean as well as the Caucasian ones. When I was a kid it was impossible to tear me away from the market stall with Korean pickles, I marvelled at the variety of options, all different in colour and texture. Here the term Korean is used in a Russified or Soviet fashion. A large wave of immigration from Korea during the late-19th and early-20th century, passed through and settled in Siberia, leaving a strong culinary imprint which was of course adapted and modified over the years. So these dishes are a faint nod to kimchi rather than their direct off-springs. So here I am indulging my childhood obsession with Korean pickles and I hope you will join me!
Korean pickled carrots and cucumbers
400 gr carrots, peeled and julienned, grated or ribboned
200 gr cucumbers, sliced on a mandolin
4 cloves of garlic, minced
100 gr red wine or sherry vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp of Korean spice mix *recipe below
1/2 tsp of chilli pepper or 1/4 of cayenne pepper
2 tsp of sunflower oil
1 tsp of white sesame seeds
Massage carrots and cucumbers with salt in a ceramic or glass bowl. Set aside.
Thinly slice the onion and fry in sunflower oil with chilli and Korean spice mix until softened (5 mins). Set aside to cool.
In the meantime, mix minced garlic, sugar and vinegar and pour over the carrots and cucumbers.
Mix in the fried onion.
Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 2 hours.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.
Korean spice mix
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
2 tbsp ground coriander (I’d strongly recommend making your own by toasting and grinding fresh coriander seeds)
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp dry garlic powder
1/2 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp dry dill
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground mustard seeds
*This method works equally well for cabbage, cucumbers and beets. Feel free to experiment with dishes that can be complemented by this pickle. I have discovered that an Indian daal is a really good partner as well as a more traditional Russian aubergine dip (both pictured above)