the no-recipe life!

Maybe you’re like me.  Maybe like me, you can’t follow recipes.  I don’t know why but invariably, I skip things, miscalculate amounts and eventually get pretty stressed out.  Following recipes is very hard for me. I really admire people who can bake; baking is a precise science one I know I’ll never master. 

If you’re like me and love pickles then I invite you to read on. I think pickles are great – on rice, in salads, on fried eggs – on loads of things.  But before I go much further, let me just put this out there.  I know zero about canning or pickling. Nothing about fermenting.  So to any fermentation slash pickling slash canning expert out there reading this, you’ve read my disclaimer. So, please be kind! 

The only “pickle” (and I put the word in inverted commas because it’s not made in the traditional way of putting the jar in a hot bath) I’ve ever made is what I call a “fridge pickle”.  You make it, put it in the fridge, and eat it really quickly before it goes weird.

In South Korea, I learnt they eat radish pickles with fried chicken.  Doesn’t that sound good? Pickles and fried chicken?  I went online to figure out how to do this.  All the online recipes describe using Korean daikon, cut into little cubes (perfectly white and even look crunchy) to make this type of pickle.

First, I couldn’t find Korean daikon.  Instead, I found purple daikon. So I bought that. 

purple daikon (radish)

Once I brought them home, I was too excited to research recipes for ‘purple daikon pickle’ and in any case, I’ve already explained my relationship to recipes.  No doubt you’ll find there are hundreds of purple daikon pickle recipes online.  

I figured I might as well go for it!

So, I peeled and cut the purple daikon into circles.  Where I come from, we don’t grow daikon, so I wasn’t sure what to expect once I sliced into them.   But look how beautiful they are on the inside – like an explosion of fire works.

Fireworks in a daikon

In the past, I’ve made onion “fridge pickles”.  That recipe begins with vinegar and sugar so that was my jumping off point . Then, I added ingredients I like.  If you want to try making it and prefer having a rough guide, here are the ingredients I used. 
To a cast-iron pot, I added:

  • 3.5 cups of vinegar  (I added the .5 cup at the end because it didn’t seem like enough liquid)
  • 2.5 tablespoons of sugar  (Again, I added the .5 tbs at the end. It seemed to need a little more to pull it together!)
  • 2 wiri-wiri peppers halved (This variety of pepper is from Guyana; it’s small, red and hot with an amazing flavor I’ve never experienced in any other pepper – EVER!) (But really, any hot pepper will do.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic ‘gently’ smashed
  • about 5-7 coriander seeds (I remember seeing this in a radish pickle recipe and thought, why not?)
  • Oh! And about 1/2 a teaspoon salt. I brought it to a boil and then I let it rest for about 10 minutes. 

I brought this to a low boil.  After about 10-15 minutes cooling time, I added the daikon.  (I let the liquid cool because I didn’t want to cook the radish. It should be crunchy.)

Then, I let the daikon sit in the vinegar bath for about 2 minutes before gently turning it and  allowing the pieces on top to get into the vinegar bath as well.

As if by magic, the daikon transformed from light pink to  alizarin crimson. How beautiful the colour became once all the pieces were submerged!


After a little while, all the slices relaxed into the vinegar bath cooling and soaking up the sour and sweet, the garlic and the heat from the peppers!

Finally, this was the result! The colour is so beautiful and – well – the flavour is amazing too.

So far, I’ve had them in salad, (yum!) cut them into sticks, on the side of chicken curry (also yum!) and in cole-slaw.  They’re  crunchy and peppery, tart with the tiniest kiss of sweet. 

Recipes are great and  can give you exact results every time.  They can be comforting in that sense.  But perhaps you can ignore the sketchy recipe outlined above and buy a few purple daikon and take it in any direction you want. 

Perhaps, you can look on this as a challenge. Buy an ingredient you’ve never tried to cook before, an ingredient you’ve never eaten.  If you’re really worried, look up a few images of how this ingredient is used in different dishes! Conflate ideas or  better yet –  just go for it.  What do you have to lose? The reward is in the fun, the adventure.  You might just find loads of pleasure in the no-recipe life!

13 Comments Add yours

  1. lulu says:

    Dear. I really enjoy your writing, peaceful, like the river flowing, like summer shade. After I read, I accepted this challenge. I love a kind of food in China called meatballs. It is always made with meat. I would like to try it with vegetables, I never tried it before. It seems more healthy. So, I fried it with carrots, coriander, flour, starch, and baking soda. Unexpectedly, it was delicious, crispy, and crispy. Then I took this veggie-balls, cabbage, and vermicelli to cook soup together, without adding a drop of oil and adding a little salt. It is very refreshing and suitable for consumption in the hot summer. I was so excited! Thank you!


    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      hi Lulu,
      Your post made me so happy. I love that you tried something new and discovered that you loved making it. I loved (too) that it turned into something yummy – most likely something that you’ll make again and again.
      I wish you could share a photo of what you made. Thanks so much for posting this.


  2. S says:

    And they were delicious in my turkey sandwich yesterday sitting by the Yellowstone River. The flavor is so good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      YAY! That makes me so happy!


  3. Hessaun says:

    This literally made my mouth water 🤤

    I especially love your descriptions of things , the way the daikon changed colour , how tempting it looks in the jars ..

    Now I want to escape from work and pickle stuff !!!!


    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      Hi Hess,
      Can’t wait to see what you concoct in your kitchen!! Please share photos with us when you do accept this challenge! 🙂


      1. Hessaun says:

        Absolutely I will !


  4. I love the purple Daikon radishes. We’re lucky enough to have them here through our CSA all winter.


    1. Lisi-Tana says:

      Hello Vintage Kitchen
      Lucky indeed!
      I will definitely try using them in other dishes. How do you use the purple daikon in your kitchen?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Everything from additions to salads and slaws, roasted, steamed. Sometimes I use them as a cracker substitute! Just do a search on my website for some ideas, such as the winter salad here:


    2. Amna Mohamed says:

      You are a girl after my own heart. In trying out recipes, I never measure anything. i eye ball. 😳
      But I loved your post. It’s very refreshing like the daikon pink pickles.
      What a lovely color the daikon turned into.
      This post is so descriptive of you – colorful, clean, crisp, tangy
      (sometimes) and sweet.
      I like that you didn’t write a recipe but you also succeeded in telling us how to do it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you so much Anna! Your words are very kind! I must say that I usually cook by the feel, but my discipline in this blog and the other food writing I do is to translate the best I can into something that can be replicated, especially by new cooks. Have a lovely day of discovery and smiles!


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