Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spicy Pickled Plums (Page 914)


  • Date: Thursday, March 12, 2009 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companion: Matty
  • Recipe Rating: B

This recipe came off the list generated by the random number generator. I made these pickled plums quite some time ago, but we hadn't gotten around to actually tasting them until tonight. The Book says they keep, refrigerated, for up to a month. Hopefully a month plus a week is ok, or my special gentleman and I are in trouble! To make this recipe I first scoured the cupboards for star anise. I have a little problem with my spice organizational system. I have some lovely spice racks, but they are only so big. I have a good sense of what is in the 57 spice bottles on the racks and where to find each thing, but if it doesn't fit in the racks, that's another story. First, there is the spice cupboard. That is where I shove most things that don't fit in the rack. It's an abyss. I throw things in there, sometimes unlabeled, with no system whatsoever. I'm lucky if things don't fall out on me every time I open it. So there are two shelves in there overflowing with spice chaos. Add to that a spice drawer with another 44 spice bottles in it and basically if it's not on the spice rack, it's a big project trying to find it. I went through this a couple weeks ago, looking for ground mace. I unloaded everything from the spice cupboard and went through every bottle in the spice drawer. At the end, I concluded that I didn't have any and had to go buy it. But star anise I was positive that I had. I have used it for multiple recipes from The Book, and I would have bet a large sum of money that it was in a little baggy in the spice cupboard. But I unloaded that cupboard and found nothing. Then I went through the drawer. Again, no. I guess I must have used it all... In any event, it was a lengthy process, at the end of which I had to go to the store to buy it. One of my goals in my upcoming life as a homeowner is to truly organize my spices. Luckily the house we put an offer on has built-in spice shelves in the kitchen that can hold at least 84 bottles. That will be a start!

So eventually I acquired some star anise. Then I took a couple pounds of plums, cut slits in them and put them in a big jar. In a saucepan I combined water, sugar, a whole bunch of red wine vinegar, dried chiles de arbol, the star anise, and fresh ginger. I simmered for 15 minutes, then poured over the plums in the jar. I let it cool then put the jar in the refrigerator. These plums were ok, but the name of the recipe was misleading. They were hardly spicy at all. In fact, I could barely detect any heat. I had expected that the vinegar flavor would be pretty overwhelming, but really the predominant flavor was that of anise. Anise is one of the few flavors I don't like. I have tried over the years to have an attitude adjustment about it, with some mild success, but I still can't claim to enjoy it. So for me this wasn't a great recipe. But I can certainly see how pro-anise eaters would like it. My special gentleman, for instance, found these plums rather tasty. They had a nice texture, even after a month in the fridge, and the syrup they were in was also flavorful.

The recipe in The Book is the same as this one, except the one in The Book calls for 1 1/4 cups red wine vinegar rather than 1 3/4 cups.


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

I am such a total geek--I alphabetize my spices. I've been doing it for years, but only because it's beyond infuriating to buy a $7 bottle of something only to find that you had two half bottles stashed away somewhere.

Teena said...

Yeah I should really do that. Maybe when I move next I will put in the energy to alphabetize!