Tag Archives: Pickles

How to Make Salted Sesame Quick Pickles

One of my favorite cookbooks is Amy Pennington’s Urban Pantry: Tips & Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen

I moved to NYC in 2009 and really struggled to bring what I knew about cooking (big, farm-style kitchens full of enough good things to feed an army) into a single girl’s apartment. This book was a godsend for how to do a lot with a little – like how to make something for the pantry from a quart of damson plums picked up at the greenmarket, rather than renting a car to drive to a farm for a half-bushel of seconds for jam.

I left the city house for our country house nearly four years ago but held onto this slim little book with its many small batch recipes – Amy’s brandied cherries are some of my favorite preserves to share as gifts. But the real value for me is in the few pages about quick pickles – techniques for making brines and cures and soaks with different types of flavorings for different types of vegetables.

Without fail, I make these sesame-flavored cucumber pickles every summer – we eat them from the jar, serve them alongside Thai take-out, puree them as a dipping sauce for lettuce wraps, or make them the main ingredient in a salad accompanying stir-fry. And any time we have a bit of leftover cucumber, we’ll slice it and slide it into the bottom of the brining jar, so as to maintain the supply.

Make The Brine

Since cucumbers are a soft vegetable, I follow Amy’s instructions and don’t use any heat treatment on the brine. Mix together:

  • 2 cups or so of white* vinegar
  • 2 heaping TBSP of kosher salt
  • 1 TBSP sesame oil

Pack The Carton

Slice approximately a pound of cucumbers and place them in a container with a water-tight lid. Sprinkle 1 TBSP of sesame seeds over the cucumbers. Pour the brine over the top, making sure there is enough to cover the vegetables. Place the lid on the container and put it in the fridge.


These pickles taste good within 30 minutes, fabulous within 6 hours, and are still great after being stored for a couple of weeks.

Dinner and/or a Movie

Having considered the offerings at the multiplex, we decided to stay in Thursday night and watch a movie. Frozen, maybe.  About time, since friends of mine wrote the songs and I still haven’t seen it.

We go to the theatre a lot.  Plays, musicals, whatever: over 50 shows so far this year. But somehow we haven’t been to a movie theatre in 2014, and the only video we made it all the way through in one sitting last year was When Harry Met Sally. 

Could we have popcorn?

Well, of course we could.  But we had eggs and grits for brunch, and corn chips as a snack; not to be corny about it, but maybe that’s a little too much corn?  (There seemed a kernel of truth there, but that’s the last pun on the subject.)  And besides, we’ve got CSA eggplant that we don’t want to waste.


Okay, why not?  I’ve never made it, but it’s good to prove that I can follow recipes, too. I’d make the eggplant, she’d start setting up brine to pickle the cucumbers we brought home last weekend.

Dill.  We need dill.

I headed for the market.

There was some very fine eggplant. There are pickles that, I’m sure, when we open the first jar in three weeks’ time, will be amazingly fresh and dill-icious. (I didn’t promise no more puns, just no more about corn.) There was no movie. By the time the last jar was sealed and the eggplant came out of the oven, it was too late to start. And if there had been a film crew doing a documentary while we worked, it probably would have been titled In a Kitchen This Big You’d Think They Wouldn’t Trip Over Each Other So Much.

Another night, the same movie still unwatched.  Story of my (contented, well-fed) life.

Eggplant parm, served with a little leftover penne-from-the-barbecue-place. Hey, at least dinner did not consist solely of Monkey Bread.

Eggplant parm, served with a little leftover penne-from-the-barbecue-place.
Hey, at least dinner did not consist solely of Monkey Bread.