Next Level Beets: Yellow Curry Pickled Beets from Chef Rachel Yang’s Cookbook
Updated: Jan 25, 2020
We tried and loved a new take on Yellow Curry Pickled Beets from Rachel Yang’s Cookbook, My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines
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We love pickled food. That’s probably one of the reasons why we love Seoul, Korea and its food so much! (If you are interested in what to do and eat in Seoul, check out our posts on Seoul, Korea: Things To Do + Travel Tips and Seoul Food - What's Cooking in Korea's Capital).
We also love pickled beets. We’ve been making them for years. We cook the beets in a pressure cooker, peel the skins off, then pickle them with a combination of vinegars and keep them in the fridge. They often get better after a few days marinating in the fridge. And in case you’re wondering, here are the vinegars we use: sherry vinegar or rice vinegar (a stronger vinegar for a sharp tang), a bit of white vinegar (for a strong tang and to vary the flavor), white balsamic and peach vinegar (for the fruit aromas and the sweeter flavor). We also add a bit of salt to help the vinegars do their thing.
Recently we attended CherryBombe’s Seattle Jubilee. CherryBombe is a media company that’s all about showcasing women in the world of food. Rachel Yang was one of the featured speakers at the Seattle Jubilee. Yang has received numerous James Beard nominations and she and her husband co-own a few acclaimed Pacific Northwest Seattle restaurants. That’s all great, but like wine, what matters most is that you like it. In this case, we really like Revel. We look forward to Revel’s return to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood so that we can enjoy monkey bread, dan dan noodles, and short rib with rice.
Ok, back to the beets. With our inherited midwestern frugality and practicality, we don’t buy tons of cookbooks these days. However, since the Book Larder was on hand at the CherryBombe event, they invited us to take a peak at Rachel Yang’s cookbook, My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines. The first recipe we turned to was Yellow Curry Pickled Beets (thankfully, this recipe is available for free online so you can make it too). We were blown away! What an interesting array of spices! And the chili pistachio oil! Wow! Then we were sold. We had to buy the cookbook right there – and get it signed by Rachel Yang.
These pickled beets are delicious! And they’re gorgeous too! They’re an incredibly vibrant shade of yellow from the turmeric and spices. We loved the textural contrast with the pistachios too. This recipe is a keeper! And we look forward to experimenting with it more too!
We took some liberties with this recipe based on personal preferences and what we had on hand. Here are the modifications we made and some suggestions too:
Substitute capers for Kalamata olives: The pickling liquid calls for ¼ cup of Kalamata olives. We’ve never acquired a taste for these as they’re really salty and briny. Instead, we used a quarter cup of capers which worked wonderfully. The capers are salty but also have a touch of brightness.
Substitute dates or the dried fruit you already have for dried figs: The pickling liquid also calls for 10 dried Mission figs. We still had some dates from Costco (since they come in such a large quantity and keep well in the fridge), so we used these. Dried figs are much tougher than dates, so they can handle soaking for an hour in the hot pickling liquid as it cools off. Important note: if you are using any dried fruit that is not as tough as dried figs, wait 30 minutes for the pickling liquid to cool before adding the dates (or other dried fruit you’re using). This will prevent the dates from becoming too soft.
Top a salad with these: We’re used to making pickled beets to put on salads, so we tried that with these fancy beets too. We made a vinaigrette using the pickling liquid + the pistachio oil (just the oil, not the nuts or chilis) + a bit of Dijon mustard to help the vinaigrette hold the emulsion. Since beets go well with goat cheese, we also added some of the goat cheese we infused with dates and honey and froze to the salad. (You can find that recipe here.) We also made a couple salads with a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with these beets, pomegranate seeds, and whatever struck our fancy. Overall, we preferred the greens tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette and topped with the pickled beets, some sliced pear, and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds – and no cheese.
Finding chiles for the pistachio oil: This recipe calls for 2 small dried spicy Chinese chilis. We found a good deal on chiles de Arbol (in the Mexican section of the supermarket) and used 2 of these instead. This worked fine. If spicy food is not your thing, skip the chilis or use a mild dried chili that adds smokiness but not heat, like a guajillo chile, a New Mexican chile, or a guajillo chile.
Thank you, Rachel Yang, for giving us such a novel take on beets! We’re excited to try cooking more creative recipes from the rest of My Rice Bowl: Korean Cooking Outside the Lines.
Enjoy this recipe and happy cooking!