Sichuan pickles: crunchy, spicy vegetable mixture.
unlike typical pickles, Sichuan pickles are best eaten within a week. Serve as you would any pickles, or try them in these hearty Chinese dishes.
Daikon is available in supermarkets> you may have to shop at an Oriental market for the fragrant Sichuan peppercorns.
1 pound napa cabbage, stem end trimmed 1 daikon (Oriental radish), about 8 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter, peeled and cut in half lengthwise 2 medium-size cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed 2 large carrots, peeled 4 cups water 2 tablespoons salt 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger 3 cloves garlic, crushed 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns or black peppercorns, crushed 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed dried hot red chilies
Cut cabbage crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut daikon, cucumbers, and carrots into 1/8-inch-thick slices. Combine the cabbage, daikon, cucumbers, and carrots and mix well. Firmly pack vegetables into a 1-gallon jar or bowl.
In a 2- to 3-quart pan over high heat, bring water to a boil. Remove from heat> add salt, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, and chilies. Stir to dissolve salt. Cool to room temperature> pour over vegetables. Cover and chill overnight, then serve. To store, put pickles into 2 jars (1-qt. size), pressing down to fill compactly> cover with liquid. Cover the jars with lids and chill up to 1 week. Makes 2 quarts.--Rose Brosseau, Coupeville, Wash.
Per 1/4-cup serving: 9.5 cal.> 0.4 g protein> 2.1 g carbo.> 0 g fat> 418 mg sodium> 0 mg chol.
Barley Soup with Sichuan Pickes
1 tablespoon salad oil 1/2 pound boneless lean beef such as chuck or bottom round, cut into thin strips about 3 inches long 1 small onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced 6 cups regular-strength beef broth 1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed 1 bay leaf 1/3 cup sliced green onions About 1 1/2 cups Sichuan pickles (recipe precedes)
Pour oil into a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic and stir often until onion is limp but not browned, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, barley, and bay leaf> bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until barley is tender, about 40 minutes. Pour soup into a tureen> stir in green onions. Serve with Sichuan pickles to add to taste. Makes 5 or 6 servings.
Per serving: 174 cal.> 10 g protein> 18 g carbo.> 6.8 g fat> 454 mg sodium> 25 mg chol.
Steamed Pork with Sichuan Pickles
2 tablespoons dry sherry 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon pepper 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 pound boneless pork such as shoulder or butt 1 teaspoon Oriental sesame oil (optional) 1/2 cup Sichuan pickles (recipe precedes) Salt
In a shallow 8- to 9-inch rimmed serving dish or pie pan, mix sherry with soy, pepper, and half of the sliced onions.
Trim and discard excess fat from pork> cut meat into thin strips about 1 by 3 inches. Add to sherry mixture and stir to mix well.
In a 5- to 6-quart pan (at least 9 in. wide) with lid, position a rack about 1 inch above the bottom. Add water to pan almost up to the rack. Bring water to a boil on high heat. Set dish of meat on rack and lay a piece of foil on dish, covering it completely. Cover pan and boil gently until meat in center of dish is no longer pink (cut to test), about 40 minutes. Add boiling water to the pan as needed to maintain the water level.
(Or put covered dish of meat in a bamboo steamer basket, cover, and cook over gently boiling water.)
Sprinkle meat with sesame oil, remaining green onions, and salt to taste. Mound Sichuan pickles on pork, or serve to accompany the meat. Makes 3 or 4 servings.
Per serving: 325 cal.> 19 g protein> 2.9 g carbo.> 26 g fat> 608 mg sodium. 82 mg chol.