Combine my love of Thai food and my love of pickles, and you have ajat. A traditional Thai condiment that’s really easy and quick to make and pairs perfectly with a variety of Thai dishes – although it’s most notably served alongside satay to balance the richness and greasiness of the grilled meat (or fried tofu) and peanut sauce. The part of this quick pickle that seems ingenious is the preparation of the syrupy pickling liquid separately ahead of time – it’s only poured over the fresh sliced vegetables (cucumber, mild peppers, and shallots) right before serving, so the prep at serving time is minimal, and the veggies stay nice, bright, and crisp. The cilantro garnish is optional, but I thought the herb’s flavor was a great addition, especially towards the end of the meal as the delicate leaves macerated slightly in the syrup. The recipe as given makes quite a lot of ajat, but if you need less, I recommend making the full recipe of pickling liquid to use on multiple occasions, cutting up as many vegetables as you want at a time and pouring over only as much liquid as needed to barely cover them.
Ajat (Thai Quick Pickle) (adapted from She Simmers)
Yield: 6 – 8 servings
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- salt, to taste
- 3 large cucumbers, sliced in half-moons*
- 6 – 8 shallots, thinly sliced*
- 6 – 8 jalapeno peppers (or other mild peppers), sliced*
- 1 bunch cilantro leaves (optional)*
*To make fewer servings, cut back on the vegetables and cilantro, and use only a portion of the syrup. Save the rest of the syrup for the next batch.
- In a medium pot over high heat, combine 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup water, and bring to a boil, stirring.
- Remove from heat, and let cool, then add salt, to taste. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, arrange 3 large cucumbers, sliced in half-moons, 6 – 8 shallots, thinly sliced, and 6 – 8 jalapeno peppers (or other mild peppers), sliced in a bowl, and pour the cooled syrup over them.
- Garnish with 1 bunch cilanto leaves. Serve alongside satay, curries, or other Thai dishes.