When it comes to pickled vegetables, nobody does it better than Asian grandmothers. They’ve spent years and years stuffing crates of it for their family whilst simultaneously slapping hands away and telling people, ‘You’re doing it wrong. Go sit down.’ If you ever have the opportunity to avail yourself of an older Asian woman who is heaping homemade kimchi/pickled lotus root/greens/daikon or whatever magic they make in their free time, take it. Take it with a smile and be grateful because nothing spices up a dish more than that pickled veg.
That’s the very same reason is why I adore this stir-fry. No extra sauce is needed to coat everything in. Once you pickle the daikon, you can easily throw this dish together in a matter of minutes. More importantly though, it packs such a deceptively strong punch (much like an Asian grandmother). Although it looks simple, it is deliciously salty and tangy but with a bit of peppery heat. One could say that it tastes as if that grandmother is hitting your hand and telling you to go away. I don’t mind though because I know it’s for a good cause: she’s busy cooking up something tasty.
Pickled Daikon (see recipe below)
1 tbsp sliced ginger
1 tbsp sliced garlic
300g lean pork
2-3 tbsp oil
6 scallion stalks (white parts finely chopped, green parts cut into longer strips about 1in/2cm long)
1 tbsp soy sauce
150 ml (about 5 oz) rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ginger (crushed)
1 garlic clove (crushed)
1 tsp red chile pepper powder
3 cups (450g) daikon (thinly sliced)
Wash and peel daikon, cut off stem. Cut in half lengthwise then slice into thin half-circles.
Combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, salt, ginger, garlic and chile powder in a small saucepan. Stir together and gently heat to a boil. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes. Let cool. Add to sliced daikon, toss together and transfer to a covered container or ziplock bag. Place in the refrigerator overnight , allowing it to pickle.
Using a sieve or colander, drain the pickled radish from the vinegar. Remove ginger and garlic from the radish slices as well and discard.
Cut the pork into thin but wide slices. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you prefer a more tender pork, add a dash or two of meat tenderizer with a splash of water (or beer, as I do). Mix together and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
In a wok on high heat, add 2-3 tbsp of oil. Add sliced ginger and slice garlic and stir continuously to allow the ginger and garlic to infuse into the oil but not burn (about 1-2 minutes). Add sliced pork and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes or until pork is no longer pink. Next, add drain pickled radish and stir-fry for about 2-3 minutes or until radish is cooked but still crisp. In the last stages of cooking, add the green scallion parts and stir together. Cook for a minute then turn off heat and add the diced white parts of the scallions as a garnish. Serve with rice and enjoy!