In the summer, my mother and grandmother would quickly prepare pickled cucumbers. The peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers would float in a red wine marinade. As a child, I would gorge on the pickles until I felt as if my stomach would burst.
When I discovered Chicken Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad, it was an instant nirvana sensation. Fast forward a decade and some change, and I was biting into my first Bánh Mì Vietnamese sandwich - a soft baguette smeared with pâté and piled with thin slices of meat and topped with a mélange of pickled vegetables usually comprised of cucumbers, carrots, daikon radish, chile pepppers, and cilantro. I also like to add thinly sliced scallions or rings of shallots and will sometimes exchange parsley for the cilantro and red radishes for the daikon depending upon what's on hand in the refrigerator.
Somewhere along the line I began using the cucumber pickle marinade for the vegetables mix and it's been sandwich happiness ever since. I like to make large batches of the marinade and store in the refrigerator. It's not necessary to completely cover the vegetables with the marinade, if you are willing to give the vegetables a gentle stir now and again until serving time. Generally, the vegetables marinate very quickly within a handful of minutes and are a great side to Dragon Noodles or just about any sandwich.
Quick Cucumber Pickles and Marinade for Vegetables
This recipe hails from Real Thai by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books 1992). Pick-up the book to try the most excellent Satay recipe.
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tsps sea salt
English cucumbers, peeled or unpeeled, cut in half and sliced cross-wise, about 1/4-inch thick
1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar and salt is dissolved. Set aside until marinade is at room temperature, then refrigerate and use as needed for the amount of cucumbers or vegetables you have prepared.
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