If you have planned time-consuming festive meals, this quick, made in advance side-dish might be what you look for, especially since, in spite of its exotic appearance, it goes perfectly with Western warm main courses and also cold meats. If found this simple recipe while leafing through my big Japanese pickling book and since these pickled vegetables (Yasai no yaki zuke) instantly reminded me of Sakana no nanban zuke, one of my favourite ways to elevate bland fish to unexpected levels of deliciousness, I made them instantly and, just like I had expected, enjoyed them greatly.
Just like the vinegared fish I’ve mentioned above, this side-dish is probably inspired by Western cuisines (grilling and then marinating doesn’t seem to be a traditional Japanese way of pickling), which means that in spite of the obvious Japanese touch (dashi+soy sauce), this side-dish can become a part of many meals from all around the world. I also find it an interesting alternative to Western-style pickles, such as gherkins, served with both a warm meal as well as a cold meat buffet.
Like always, I have slightly modified the ratio of ingredients, so if you want to read the original recipe (provided you can read Japanese), check this wonderful cookery book, one of the best buys for my kitchen library.
TIPS: According to the author, these vegetables should be consumed the same day, but I tried it one and then two days afterwards and they were still delicious, so I’m sure you can keep them for two days in the fridge (at least).
You can use here any vegetables you like, but they have to stay crunchy (aubergine is not a good option here in my opinion).
Preparation: 20 minutes + 2 hours in the fridge
1 long celery branch
1 medium carrot
2 small fresh red chillies or 1 bigger (you can use dried, rehydrated chillies too)
3 big garlic cloves
125 ml dashi (Japanese stock; can be bought powdered but it can also be easily made either with dried bonito+konbu or only with konbu, check my recipe here)
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons 4,5% vinegar (if your vinegar is stronger, use less and taste)
Combine the marinade ingredients.
Cut the carrot into four lengthwise and then into 3-4 pieces.
Cut the celery branch into similarly sized pieces.
Cut the garlic cloves in two lengthwise (in order to obtain halves flat on one side).
Brush the vegetables with oil and grill in a pan or on a grill.
Turn them once when slightly scorched and put into a shallow dish.
(Garlic will be ready first, so take care of not burning it).
Cover with the marinade and put into the fridge for at least two hours.
These vegetables will keep for two days in the fridge. After three days they start losing flavours and become very hot.