Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Korean Pickled Jalapenos

If you're a regular reader, you know already about my insatiable love for Korean food. It's an ironic love, since I've never really been a fan of spicy food before, but there's something about Korean food that just WORKS. Maybe it's the spiciness combined with the heavy doses of garlic and sweetness that Korean food is known for. 

Obviously I love Korean food enough that I devoted an entire week to banchan (side dishes) alone. From shigemchi muchimkkakdugi, and sukju namul muchim, to pyogo bohsotkong jjang and pajeon, I love it ALL. And, who could forget about kimchi? Whether fermented in the traditional way or made quickly overnight, the heat and flavor are a perfect combination.

Most Korean side dishes are vegetarian, and easily made vegan, which gives a LOT of options to folks who decline to eat meat or animal products. This recipe, for a pickled jalapeno pepper, is no different. The recipe itself is vegetarian, but a simple substitution of tamari for soy sauce makes this recipe vegan. I cannot vouch for Sprite or 7Up, but *can* let you know that Sierra Mist is all-natural AND vegan-friendly. 

These peppers are ADDICTIVE. They're sweet, but also salty, with all of the spiciness expected from jalapenos. They aren't just for eating alone or atop a bowl of steaming rice - try these atop any noodle dish, in sandwiches, or even with BBQ. They key is patience - you really DO want to give these guys a few days to pickle and REALLY develop those flavors. The heat of the jalapenoes will mellow out, and all of the great Asian flavors will combine beautifully. 

My favorite use of these peppers? As a pizza topping! 

Korean Pickled Jalapenos
adapted from Leite's Culinaria

8 jalapeno peppers, sliced into 1/8" rings
1/2 cup soy sauce (substitute tamari for vegan)
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup lemon-lime soda (Sprite, 7Up, Sierra Mist)**

**I prefer Sierra Mist, primarily since it's made from real sugar as opposed to HFCS. Plus, it tastes better. 

Scrape out the jalapeno seeds if desired; leaving them in will result in an especially spicy pickle. Since I like a decent amount of heat, I removed from seeds from HALF of the peppers. Place the peppers in a 1-quart glass jar.

Combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and add the lime juice, lemon juice and soda. Let cool for about 5 minutes.

Pour the pickling liquid over the jalapenos. Place a lid on the jar and immediately refrigerate the peppers for at least 3-4 days or up to a week before opening.


  1. Hi, what a fun recipe! But I have a question, I live in Norway and there is no way I could get hold of seasoned rice vinegar, what could I substitute it with?


    1. Angelica, can you get white wine vinegar? It's similar in flavor, but maybe a LITTLE stronger in flavor. I think that would be the closest substitute!

    2. Yeah, white wine vinegar is easy to get hold of! Thanks for the quick reply, I will try this recipe asap!