June 09, 2011
Quick Pickled Red Onions
I fell in love with these in Mexico. They came with tacos, on tortas, with meltingly tender cochinita pibil, and elegantly draped over poc chuc. It seems, in fact, to be an essential condiment in the Yucatan, nearly as ever-present as the fiery fresh green salsas (oh, if only we had a source for fresh green habaneros, here).
We discovered just how easy it is to make this dish last summer, just in time for our friend Rodney's barbeque. We got rained on a little that evening, since it is Vancouver, after all, and the weather delights in being contrary, but we had some wonderful food. Our grillable of the evening was a red recado-rubbed pork tenderloin and some buns to make ad hoc tortas. And the onions, of course: a great massive jar of them.
The recipe comes from Daniel Hoyer's lovely book "Mayan Cuisine". The first time we made it, we followed the recipe as slavishly as possible, to wonderful results. The most recent batch was adjusted based on both past experience (there is rather too much red onion mass for the amount of liquid, although that may be partly due to the vagueness of calling for three "large" onions). I also had some orange habaneros in dire need of using, so I sliced one up. All in all, I was really pleased with the pantry-ready version that I put together based on Mr. Hoyer's more traditionally authentic recipe.
Pickled Red Onions & Habaneros
adapted from Mayan Cuisine, by Daniel Hoyer
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of one lime
Juice of one orange, plus water to make 1/2 cup (if needed)
1 clove garlic, quartered part-way through
1 teaspoon allspice berries
2 teaspoons black pepppercorns
1 2" stick cinnamon
4 bay leaves
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 cups finely sliced red onion
1 to 2 sliced, deseeded habaneros
Pack the onions, garlic and habaneros in a clean glass canning jar (sterilized would be best, otherwise, microwave half-full of water for a couple of minutes, and then carefully empty).
Bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, and allow to simmer (covered, to prevent volume reduction) for seven minutes. Pour the hot liquid, spices and all, over the onions, making sure that all of the onions are covered with liquid. Cover loosely, and allow to cool until room temperature, then cap tightly and refrigerate. As they cool, the onions and the liquid slowly turn a bright, festive pink. They will be ready to eat in a few hours. Use up within a few weeks.
Please note that this is a "fresh pickle", and not a preserved pickle. While the acidity and salt should help slow down any unfriendly biological growth in your refrigerated pickles, it is not designed for long storage. Please look up canning safety information if you wish to put up these pickles in a pantry shelf-stable manner.
These also made a super topping for a veggie burger recipe that I'm working on (hopefully more on that soon), and a pretty good hotdog garnish, too.