Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Ninniko Shoyuzuke

Don't you hate it when it turns out that somewhere on its journey from farm to shop, someone refrigerated the garlic?

The garlic thinks: "Hm. It was really cold for a while, but now its getting warmer. Must be springtime! Sprout factor 9, Mr Sulu!"

...And your lovely big bargain bag of garlic bulbs starts sprouting everywhere and needs to all be used up at once ASAP!

Fortunately, this Japanese style no-cook garlic pickle is very quick and easy to prepare - though it does take a couple of months to mature.  There is even a bonus extra side product halfway through!

Your sprouty garlic disaster will be saved, and provide a bounty of garlicky deliciousness.

Recipe for Ninniko Shoyuzuke

Initial stage of pickling:

To start the preparation, you will need a large, clean pickling jar with a lid suitable for use with vinegar - glass or plastic-lined so it won't rust all over your pickles!

Ready to go in the cupboard.

You will need your bag of garlic bulbs, and a large bottle of Rice Wine Vinegar from the Chinese supermarket, or the Ethnic Foods aisle of a large supermarket. A tiddly bottle from next to the Sharwoods stir-fry sauces isn't going to be enough!

Break your garlic bulbs into cloves, and peel them, trimming off any shoots + roots that may have started. Discard any that look manky or mouldy.

Pack the good peeled garlic cloves into the pickling jar. Pour in rice wine vinegar to cover. Since garlic floats in vinegar, you will need to use something to keep the garlic submerged. In Japan they sell special wooden "drop lids" that fit inside jars and saucepans to weight things down. In the UK, we have to improvise - a ball of scrunched-up greaseproof paper can be used to push down the garlic cloves and keep them submerged.

Tighten the lid on the pickling jar and put it in a cool, dark place at the back of a cupboard and forget about it for about 6 weeks.

This is normal.
Six weeks later:

At the back of the cupboard, you rediscover your jar of garlic cloves in green vinegar! Wait - what?

DON'T WORRY - this is normal! A chemical reaction between the sulphur compounds that give raw garlic its pungence and the vinegar can produce a greeny-blue tint.  It is harmless.

You now need a clean bottle with a lid capable of storing vinegar, and a funnel. And a large bottle of dark soy sauce from the Chinese supermarket, or the Ethnic Foods aisle of a large supermarket. Remember how much vinegar you needed? You are going to need about half that volume of soy sauce, so a tiddly bottle from next to the Sharwoods stir-fry sauces isn't going to be enough!

Soy sauce added!
Open the pickling jar and remove the drop lid. Carefully decant half the vinegar into your bottle through a funnel. Put the lid on the bottle and put it in your cupboard next to the other vinegars. This is your bonus extra: Garlic vinegar for use in salad dressings and marinades!

Now, add soy sauce to the pickling jar until you have submerged all the garlic again. Once again, you may need to use a drop lid or improvise one out of scrunched up greaseproof paper. Tighten the lid on the pickling jar and gently invert it a couple of times to ensure the soy sauce and vinegar have mixed together. Put the jar back in the cool dark cupboard and forget about it for another six weeks.

Another six weeks later:

The mature garlic pickle will have absorbed soy sauce, the cloves will have turned dark and savoury. They can be eaten straight from the jar as a pickle, or chopped and added to stirfries, marinades and stews as a flavouring.

And once the last garlic clove has been fished out of the jar, the garlic vinegar soy sauce that remains can also be used to flavour salad dressings and marinades and the like.

Categories: Japanese Pickles