I harbour no illusions about my family’s eating habits. I know some of them are weird. Take, for example, the fact that when my sons were turning 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2, respectively, we served onigiri at their collective birthday party. Not weird in Japan, admittedly, but we weren’t in Japan. We were in Western New York. And while most of the friends present were pretty psyched to try something new, a couple kids and parents looked at us askew while making sure there was a clear path between them and the door. One poor woman involuntarily threw an onigiri back at the plate and it skittered across the table when she asked what the black stuff was around the rice ball and I responded, “Toasted seaweed!” enthusiastically.
Oh well. Can’t convince them all.
All of this is to say that since that moment, I’ve been a little more circumspect about what I serve where and to whom. I try to know my audience, so to speak. This works pretty well for the most part.
Then this past weekend, I posted the following query on the Foodie With Family facebook page:
“I have a question for you all. I’m positively addicted to these sweet and spicy pickled julienned carrots I make… I put them on slacker sushi bowls, on bahn mi, on other sandwiches, on salads, in homemade sushi. Are any of you out there interested in the recipe or is that too weirdo for you?”
I thought the question would be D.O.A. In fact, I kind of wondered why I even posted the question. Imagine my surprise when I saw that within ten minutes of posting the question, there were already four people who said they’d love the recipe. I think my jaw might’ve slackened a little bit. But that wasn’t where it ended. Within hours, twenty four people had assured me that they, too, wanted the recipe and twenty two other people had liked the status. At that point, my mouth was hanging open so far I looked a bit like a cod. We chat back and forth on facebook, but I can honestly say this was a pretty clear sign that I need to ask you guys more often what you’d like for me to post.
Here I’d been withholding one of my favourite staples from you all on the grounds that I was a dork and it was too strange/unique/niche/whatever for you guys when I could’ve just asked all along. Duh, right?
Lesson learned. I will now ask. But for the record, y’all are weirdos, too and I like you that way.
Let’s talk some practicality here… because who wants to go to the trouble of canning something unless you know you’re going to use it, right? Where can you put these gorgeous little orange strips? Use these anywhere you want a little bit of sweetness and a little bit of spice. Remember the candied jalapenos? These are in that category. Some ideas:
- On bibimbap. This classic Korean dish gets a nice bit of oomph from the sweet and spicy pickled carrots.
- On top of slacker sushi bowls. Rice piled in a bowl with sushi dressing poured over it, topped with these carrots, shrimp/tuna/salmon, cucumber cubes, cream cheese, green onions, wasabi, soy sauce, nori, sesame seeds, etc… Think of a Philadelphia sushi roll exploded in a bowl. Many deep thanks to Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake and her sister for the addition of cream cheese and a cool name to something we’d been making haphazardly for years. )
- On sandwiches. Yes. Homemade bánh mì, simple turkey sandwiches, chopped up in egg/chicken/tuna salad, etc… They all taste incredible with these spicy, sweet, tender crisp carrot sticks tucked into them.
- On salads. Toss a few of these and a fistful of chow mein noodles on a salad before drizzling a nice sesame vinaigrette over top. You’ll be blown away.
- In summer rolls or spring rolls. These add a mega punch of flavour and texture to summer and spring rolls. Since you all told me you want an Asian style pickled carrot recipe, I’m going to go ahead and assume you like summer and spring rolls, too. See how I get?
- By themselves. Every now and then I grab a jar of these out of the fridge and a pair of chopsticks and just nibble. Sometimes it’s exactly what I need.
Some Cooking Notes:
- In the recipe, I tell you to julienne the carrots (in other words, cut into matchstick size/shaped strips.) If this is too much effort and/or you don’t own a mandoline slicer, you can always use a vegetable peeler to peel thin strips from the carrots. It won’t tuck quite so neatly onto slacker sushi bowls or look quite so polished as the mandoline rendered strips, but it’ll do and it’ll taste every bit as good.
- Don’t be tempted to leave out the star anise. My husband hates (and I don’t use the word lightly) star anise, but loves what they do here. They give the carrots a certain je ne sais quoi. Just try ’em.
One final bit of business. A reader asked where she can find all of the Make Ahead Monday recipes. If you are looking for an easy way to keep track of recipes in any category here on Foodie With Family, try the “Recipe” tab under the logo and header. I’ve categorized all of the recipes and Make Ahead Mondays has its very own section. Tada! …Or you could just click THIS. Ask and you shall receive!