Monday, August 29, 2005

Salting cucumbers in a flash

Freshly salted cucumbers - soolakurgid - are one of the nicest late summer delicacies and I had the pleasure of eating through three (!!!) batches of these during my recent trip home. They're yummy, crunchy, just a bit too salty and very refreshing. And a doddle to make. If you have the ingredients that is. I must admit I've never come across those short cucumbers in Edinburgh - all you can find here are the long varieties, and these simply wouldn't do for this particular 'recipe' (but check out Zarah Maria's recipe for a Danish agurkesalat if you want something sour and sliced). Neither have I spotted blackcurrant leaves or overgrown dill here, though I guess a friendly farmers market stall would probably provide these if asked beforehand.

Anyway - here's what to do. You start by covering the bottom of a largish bowl with rinsed blackcurrant leaves and overgrown dill. Then you start layering the cucumbers. The cucumbers should be carefully washed beforehand, and if you want extra crunchy salted cucumbers, you could soak them in ice cold water for a couple of hours beforehand.

If you wish, you can throw in some sliced horseradish as well as garlic cloves - or garlic buds* as well. My Mum had loads of the latter in the garden just now, and I used these. The buds consist of hundreds of miniature garlic cloves, that would usually be used as seeds to grow more garlic. But they are deliciously mild and tasty like that - no need to peel or chop before throwing onto the frying pan.

When you're finished with layering, you cover it with boiled water, dissolving about a tablespoon of coarse salt and a teaspoon of sugar per one litre of hot water just before pouring over cucumbers. Cover, and keep in a warm room temperature until following day, or until cucumbers start to turn just ever so slightly sour (frequent tasting is needed:) It can take anything from 12 hours to 48 or so - depending on the room temperature etc. You want the cucumbers to taste just slightly sour and have turned a wee bit green-yellowish instead of bright green. Small bubbles on the surface of the brine are acceptable as well.

Then you move the bowl into your fridge - that reduces the speed of becoming even more sour** - and start eating. Sliced on your open sandwich (that's the only one we eat back home, although ours are not as elaborate as the Danish ones). Sliced into a summery tomato-cucumber salad. Sliced as a garnish on your dinner plate. Sliced length-wise to be nibbled at a BBQ party. Or in front of telly. The choice is endless and it's entirely yours.

* The last three months of foodblogging alone have been very educational for me. Until June I had only used plain garlic cloves. Since then I've discovered the joyous taste of garlic scapes and now garlic buds. Well, my gastrology entry did say that as a Taurean, I would be forced "to broaden [my] gastronomic world in 2005" - I guess I've done that in the world of garlic at least :)


Anonymous said...

Foodblogging is very educational for me. I'm learning lots of great stuff! Like your latest post. That sliced cucumber certainly looks good. ;-)

BTW, I just blogged about my experience making the Carrots with Rosemary and Orange Salad recipe that you posted here earlier. Yes, it was a learning experience, indeed!

Paz ;-)

Anonymous said...

For the right type of cucumbers, try your nearest Polish, Turkish or Kurdish store. I'm sure those people can't all be down here in London...

Pille said...

Paz - I've finished the cucumbers now, and already crave some more:) I looked at your carrots and rosemary post, and have added a direct link into my article as well!
w7 - I get most of my vegetables either from the farmers market or local veggie stores, and have so far only spotted those long cucumbers. I'll have another look!

Niki said...

They look fabulous! So good I can almost taste them.

Pille said...

w7 - just to let you know that I haven't had any luck with the stores you mentioned yet unfortunately:( Checked out some of the best-stocked vegetable stores in Edinburgh, and all they had was mini versions of the normal long cucumbers. They wouldn't work well here, as they would't be as crunchy as needed.
Well, I'll keep looking..

Niki - mmm - maybe I can post you some during the next round of blogging by mail:)))