Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Move Over Mayonnaise, There’s a New All-Purpose Condiment in Town

When most people think of pickles, they think of…well, pickles. But not only can pickles be pickled, about most anything can be pickled. From carrots to eggs to hogs’ feet to cat embryos (you remember the ominous glass jar in biology class), pickling is a great way to preserve foods (or pets) while also adding a zing to already great flavors.

Recently, I was in need of a vibrant garnish to spruce up a dish I was preparing. The dish was mostly shades of brown with a little green thrown in and it screamed for something red-ish. Unfortunately, the trusty roasted red bell pepper just wouldn’t work for this one. That is when I realized that the purple hue of the red onion would be just the splash of color I was looking for. However, the bite of the onion was overpowering and did not fit well with the dish at all. That is when I wondered what would happen if I first pickled the onion. I hoped this step would dull the onion enough so that it would not overpower the other flavors yet it would still add a nice tangy zip to the meat.

I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Not only did the pickled onions turn out to be the perfect accompaniment for the dish at hand, but also I have put them on everything from grilled beef to tacos to bbq. I have yet to try them on ice cream, but I’m sure they can’t hurt it.

Until now, mayonnaise has been my fall back condiment. Because really, what doesn’t taste better with a dollop of mayonnaise on it (that fat-free stuff doesn’t count)? The answer is ‘nothing,’ of course. And I will still use my beloved mayonnaise to make food happier. But in order to give my arteries a break from time to time and to reward my taste buds, pickled red onion is the new condiment of choice for this cook.

They’re easy to make. Give them a whirl and let me know what you think.


1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise

1-2 c white vinegar

½ habanero, seeded, deveined and diced

1 tsp dried Mexican Oregano

Mix all ingredients in a jar, vinegar should just cover the onions, and let sit for 12 hours. Yeah, only 12 hours. Enjoy

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