sweet and spicy pickles

sweet and spicy pickles

The first time I bit into a whole dill pickle, by itself without a McDonald toy and cheeseburger accompanying it, I was horrified.  I had no idea what I bit into.  It was tart, strong, and just a shocker to my mouth.  I wasn’t ready for it nor, was it any pickle that I was used to.  I’ve actually come to enjoy pickles and really taste the different textures, flavors, and excitement that come with different pickling methods.  But, when you’re a little Taiwanese boy and you only eat one specific type of pickles at Taiwanese restaurants, then you only think that there is one pickle in existent.  And that pickle is this delicious sweet tangy thing of love and marriage.

Usually when I eat this in a restaurant, it’s primarily made out of daikon and carrots, but my mom used to make it with cucumbers.  You can choose whichever of the two, or both, but I like the flavor of the cucumber.  If you use regular cucumbers, peel it, but English cucumbers, you can leave the skin on.  It gives it a nice summer feeling to it.  This dish is usually made as a side dish, to pair with something.  It would be perfect for a real spicy dish.  I guarantee it will help cool your mouth down.  The first time I ever had this, and a more traditional way of preparing it, is with cabbage.  Now, if you want texture overload, you can use a head of cabbage.  Don’t use Napa Cabbage, but like real cabbage.  It is all the same flavors, but adds a squeaky fun texture to it.

It might be because I grew up with this in the summer, but every time I eat these cucumbers it warms me up.  It reminds me of the sunny and hot summers of Southern California.  The cooling of the cucumbers with the tang of the vinegar and the subtle sweetness makes this dish perfect to just have as a side dish or a healthy snack.

The use of the salt is to help get rid of some of the liquid in the cucumber, which then means it soaks up more flavor.  If you want to skip this step, you can.  Just sprinkle a little salt to help balance the flavor out.  You can marinate the cucumber for only as little as an hour, but as is with all great things, the longer you let it soak the more flavorful it gets.  If you do marinate for a long time, use daikon or cabbage so it doesn’t lose the crunch.  My favorite thing to eat this with?  Taiwanese Stinky Tofu….check it!


1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced into 1 inch spears

1 large clove, smashed

3 Thai chili, split or quartered

3 tbs rice vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt


sprinkle salt on cucumbers and toss until combined, let rest for 15 minutes

rinse and drain the liquid from the cucumbers

mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl and toss with cucumber

marinate for at least an hour

-serves 4, sort of –


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