Monday, April 20, 2009

Pickled Ramps

Lately I've been sort of out of it and distracted by the realities of life and have not been to a Saturday Union Square Green Market in far too long. This Saturday I managed to get up my courage and brave the crowds and boy am I glad I did, for I was rewarded with the first ramps of the season. Ramps are a wild spring onion and one of the first green things to appear at the market in early spring. I snatched up a couple of bunches and made a warm ramp vinaigrette with Sherry vinegar that I tossed with wild dandelion greens and the last of the wintered over beets I got from the Gorzynski Ornery Farm, probably the only beyond organic farmers at the market.

The thing I like to do most with ramps is pickle them. My friend Michael turned me on to the original version of the recipe from David Chang, chef of one of my favorite restaurants in NYC: Momofuku (which means wild peach). He has a way with pickles and if you ever get a chance to go I highly recommend the pickle plate. This is my version of the recipe:

Pickled Ramps

Thouroughly wash and trim 1 pound of ramps. The green part of the early spring ramp doesn't need as much trimming as they do when they get bigger later in the season. It's your call, I usually cut off the top 1/2" because I like the look of it. Remember if you do trim, compost the trimmings or use them in stock or use the green parts altogether in a salad.

Place the prepped ramps into whatever sterilized container you are going to pickle them in. I use the recyclable jars that have glass lids attached by a metal hinge. They look nice and can be placed on the table next to a cheese course adding a nice visual touch.

In a large heavy bottomed pot add: 4 cups of water, 2 cups of rice vinegar, 2 cups organic cane sugar, 2 T kosher salt, 2 t Shichimi Togarashi* turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has all dissolved. Turn off the heat and pour liquid into your ramp jar. Fill the containers so the ramps are totally covered with fluid. I always have left over liquid.

Cool to room temperature. If you want, process in a water bath for 15 minutes, don't over do it or they will loose their crunch. I never bother and just keep them in the fridge. They last several months.

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