Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
Portland is fermentation crazy, so I usually buy sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles and other lacto-fermented stuff from the people who do it much better than I can. But I do make quick pickles, vegetables lightly cured using salt, sugar and vinegar. Made in small batches and kept chilled, these don’t keep long, but you’ll find you eat them quickly anyway.
Carrots are cheap, everywhere and good for you, so this is a nice way to make sure you eat a lot of them. Inspired by the Japanese kōhaku namasu, daikon radishes and carrots shredded and pickled with rice vinegar and mirin, my version gets a more savory flavor with a healthy sprinkle of MSG.
Before you @ me, do some research. The Japanese inventors and still primary manufacturers of this naturally fermented flavor enhancer have a very informative explainer. And Frankie Huang gets at the racism behind the hate, a must-read. Then make sure your kitchen has a shaker of the “Essence of Flavor.”
Umami pickled carrots
1 pounds carrots, grated
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup mirin
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon monosodium glutamate
If you’ve got a food processor with a grating disk, use it on the carrots. The pieces are a little chunkier than what you get from a box grater, but either work. You could also cut them into matchsticks if you need to practice your knife skills.
Combine everything else in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add the carrots, let it cook for about 30 seconds, then turn off the heat. Let the carrots cool in the pot, then transfer to a container and refrigerate. You’ll probably finish them off in a week, but they’ll last longer.