Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thai Curry Pickled Pears

The mission here was simple- a deconstructed Thai red curry paste cleverly disguised as a brine for pickled pears. While most of the ingredients in a curry paste are transferable to this sort of application, some (namely, shrimp paste) simply would not work very well. The main components are lemongrass,ginger, dried Thai bird chilies,shallots,garlic,coriander root,lime juice/zest and/or kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste. There may be subtle differences from kitchen to kitchen but for argument sake, we picked the elements that work the best with this recipe. The fully frontal citrus notes from the ginger,lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves give these pickles an otherworldly goodness. These assertive flavors stand up well to the heat of the Thai birds and the sweetness of the brine. The aroma is fresh and the flavors are irresistible. This recipe is adapted from pickled pears in the Joy of Pickling which calls for a syrupy sort of brine so keep that in mind when building a flavor profile. The addition of coconut water is designed to compliment the red curry as it is usually paired with coconut milk in curry bowls in Thailand. If you're looking for a heavier essence of coconut, I would suggest coconut extract as it is a clear liquid like coconut water and won't make the brine cloudy. We've already munched through a jar of these addictive pickles!

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6 pint jars, lids and rings
2 red anjou pears
2 green anjou pears
2 bartlett pears
2 bosc pears
1 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut water
1 1/2 cups rice vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp canning salt

6 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp lemongrass, sliced
12 Thai bird chilies
12 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp cracked coriander seeds
1 tbsp cracked peppercorns

Cut pears into 6 slices each, remove seeds and hold in water acidulated with lemon juice. Bring water, coconut water, rice vinegar, white vinegar, sugar and canning salt to a boil, cover and hold. Divide garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chilies, lime leaves, coriander seeds and peppercorns among 6 jars. Stuff jars with pears alternating colors with the skin side out and top with brine. Attach lids and rings and process for 15 minutes.


  1. This pickle belongs on a lentil burger with a gob of raita and privacy for me while I eat it in 5 seconds flat.

    Nice one, Elle!

  2. Oh. Ma. Gah. Pretty please post this to Punk Domestics? It's glorious!

  3. I can't find kaffir lime leaves where I live. Should I order online? Is there any acceptable substitute? I have a bunch of pears and am dying to try this recipe.