Szechuan Pickle Preparation
Mix the brine ingredients in a gallon (or larger) container (glass, ceramic, stainless steel or even plastic). Add the cleaned and drained dry vegetables to the brine (the vegetables should be completely covered by the brine). Cover the container loosely and let it sit at room temperature for 3 to 5 days. Notes: The entire procedure must be grease-free at all times. This includes hands, knives, cutting board, container, vegetables and measuring utensils. Contamination with even small amounts of grease may result in the formation of scum on the surface of the brine. If some scum does form, the addition of a TBS or two of vodka will help. The quantity of peppers may be varied according to the desired degree of hotness. The brine can be used over and over again as long as additional salt and vodka are added after each use. For authenticity, instead of vodka one can use Chinese Gao-Liang wine if it is available. A vegetable dryer that will spin vegetables is very useful for the preparation of this dish. Only the outside of the vegetables is dried; the moisture content of the interior should not be changed. Vodka is used instead of vinegar for pickling the vegetables. The appearance of the pickled vegetables is very close to that of fresh ones when vodka is used. The final product can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks as long as it is retained in the original brine. This dish is a favorite side dish among the Chinese. It can be found in many of the restaurants in China, but one would not expect to find it at most banquets. Posted to EAT-L Digest by "Pamela F. Wagner"
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