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Shio-Zuke Pickles (Japanese Quick Salt-Pickled Vegetables)

This recipe is courtesy of CSA member Jay Chen.

You can make Japanese shio-zuke pickles with many types of firm vegetables, but I'm partial to cabbage, broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower.  Sprinkled with salt and pressed, they lose moisture, intensifying their natural flavor and providing an irresistibly squeaky, crunchy texture.  My husband and I eat these straight out of a bowl as finger food, but they're also excellent as a palette cleanser for for oily fish--sort of like ginger for sushi.

The batch in my fridge currently contains carrots and cauliflower from the 7/22 pickup:

•3 medium carrots
•1.5 - 2 cups of cauliflower
•2 tablespoons kosher or sea salt
•1 4" piece of dried kombu (if you have it)

Scrub or peel the carrots, and slice them into diagonal coins with a knife or mandoline. Cut the cauliflower into small florets of approximately equal size. Place all the veggies into a Ziploc bag with the kombu (if you have it), and sprinkle the salt over them.  Seal the bag, and shake to distribute the salt.

After the vegetables are well-salted, open the bag slightly and remove as much air as possible from it.  Put the bag of veggies into a bowl or pot, put another bowl or pot on top of it, and weigh it down with whatever you have on hand; I put a cast-iron pan on top of my second bowl, with some canned food on top as extra.  What you're trying to do is help the salt penetrate the vegetables better, via the added pressure.  Leave your precarious tower of pots on a counter for at least an hour.

The longer you leave the pickles, the saltier they'll get.  Some people are good after an hour; others like to go for multiple days.  I'm happy with mine after about 2-3 hours; I'll periodically take apart the tower to taste test.  Once I'm happy with the flavor, I drain all of the pickling liquid from the bag, and move it into the fridge.  (Note: if your pickles are too salty, you can rinse them a little--but if you rinse too much, the flavor and texture will end up watery instead of crisp.)