Sunday, May 29, 2011

Quickles! Quick Daikon Pickles

I love Guu Izakaya, a Japanese Izakaya-style restaurant in Toronto.  Last time I went, I had a mixed pickle appetizer that reminded me how much I love pickled Daikon.  (In Banh Mi, especially)These pickles are dead easy to make.  All it took was:
1 med Daikon, cut into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup of vinegar (rice vinegar is preferable, but white vinegar is what I used this time)
1/4 tsp salt

Toss the sliced Daikon with the salt in a bowl, and allow it to  sit for 20 minutes or so.  This pulls a lot of the water out of the daikon.
Rinse the daikon and squeeze the excess water out of it, then place it in a jar with a lid.
Add the vinegar and sugar to the jar, and adjust either to taste.
At this point, I added several drops of food colouring to the vinegar solution, because the pickles I have in Japanese restaurants often have a vibrant pink colour.  If I had had a beet, I would have added a slice of it to the jar and it would probably have achieved a nicer, more natural result.
The shape of the cells in the Daikon really stand out when you add something coloured to the liquid.

Vegan Coconut Caramels

Last weekend I went to Montreal, where I tasted delicious American made coconut caramels.  Looking at the ingredient list, I was convinced that I could make these myself.  There were only 4 ingredients: Cane sugar, brown rice syrup, coconut milk, and sea salt!
So, with the help of DicedTomato, and some minor adaptations, Caramels were made!  
I'm not super happy with their firmness (this might have happened because I don't have a candy thermometer) but goddamn, are they delicious.
What's in them?
1 cup of cane sugar
1/2 cup of brown rice syrup
less than 1/2 cup of Earth Balance (salted, otherwise add a little salt)
1 cup of coconut milk 
a pinch of sea salt

First I simmered the sugar and the syrup on medium/medium-high heat, not stirring, for about 10 minutes.  It got darker, reduced by a small bit, and when I swirled it, I could no longer hear any sugar granules.
In another pot, I warmed the coconut milk and melted the Earth Balance.  Then I removed the sugar from the heat and added the coconut milk mixture, stirring it in quickly and well.  Then the pot went back on the stove and bubbled away for probably another 15-20 minutes, while I stirred it frequently.  Because I have no candy thermometer, I tested it for doneness by dropping a small amount in a bowl of very cold water.  If it dissolves in the water, or forms a string, it's not ready yet.  When it starts to form itself into a soft ball that holds up when you touch it, it's about ready.
Following DicedTomato's instructions would probably be a better idea if you have access to a candy thermometer.

I then poured the mixture into a lined, greased baking tin (if you have a silicone baking tin, you can skip the lining probably and just grease it) topped it lightly with kosher salt, and let it set overnight.  This morning I still found it a bit too soft to cut, so I put it in the freezer for a few minutes, and then used a sharp knife to make rectangles.  Oh man, I like these.  Next time I will try coating them with chocolate (maybe making a little ball or square).