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It’s hot out. Make cold, crunchy pickles

Instant Pot Hatch chile pork tacos with kohlrabi mango slaw
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

In this week’s print Food section, we celebrate pickles — the ones you can buy and the ones you can make. My colleague Jenn Harris, the mastermind behind this issue, has gathered tips from L.A. chefs for home pickling, food writer Betty Hallock teaches us how to make Japanese pickled plums, Jill Shah reveals the basics behind Indian pickles, and I share two options for pickled jalapeños.

Pickles may not be a meal in and of themselves but they’re an easy quarantine cooking project and exactly what you want to eat on heatwave days. With a bracing tang to balance rich main dishes — think of the daikon and carrots on meaty banh mi, the sauerkraut on hot dogs, the turnips stuffed into falafel sandwiches — they brighten and lighten whatever you’re making.

Plus, they’re a smart way to preserve the summer vegetables in markets now. As for the fruit, you can jam any of it that you don’t eat out of hand or turn that produce into no-bake frozen desserts to stay cool.

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Minh Phan's bread-and-butter pickles

Time 1 hour, plus chilling
Yields 2 pint jars

Sweet, sour and crunchy, these spears get a hit of turmeric and ginger. You can slice the cucumbers instead if you want pickle chips to tuck into burgers and sandwiches.

Lightly pickled kohlrabi and mango balance the richness of pork braised with fresh and dried Hatch chiles, which are in season now. Using an Instant Pot or slow cooker to get the meat fork-tender keeps your kitchen cool.

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Cold noodles in beef broth (Mul naeng myun)

Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields Serves 4

Quick-pickled daikon and cucumber slices add crunch to chewy cold noodles and tender brisket in an refreshing ice-cold broth.

“Blackened” Snapper with Crunchy Pickle Salad

Time 40 minutes
Yields Serves 4 to 8.

Pickles become a side dish in this tomato salad for snapper that’s broiled instead of fried for a no-mess meal.

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Peach and orange blossom honey pops

Time 15 minutes
Yields Makes about 6 to 8 popsicles, depending on the size of the mold

Mixing yogurt with fresh and sweetened condensed milk gives these simple homemade pops a peaches ’n’ cream feel.

Ask the cooks

I’m not a “foodie” nor am I a cook, but I do consume a lot of garlic as I’m Italian and it’s in my blood. I hope you can help me understand the difference between finely chopped garlic and minced garlic. Thank you.

— Warren Cereghino
Pacific Palisades

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The difference between finely chopped and minced garlic is a matter of size and moisture. Finely chopped garlic should be cut to 1/16-inch bits; “chopped” should be 1/8-inch and “coarsely or roughly chopped” should be ¼-inch pieces. Finely chopped garlic should stay intact in separate pieces that are relatively dry. Minced garlic should be even chopped even smaller (1/32-inch). When the pieces are that small, the garlic’s natural moisture comes out and the minced garlic starts to stick together. You get a similar effect running a whole peeled garlic clove against a Microplane grater or pushing it through a press.

Have a cooking question?

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Join us for virtual food events this fall!

The Los Angeles Times Food Bowl, usually held as a monthlong series of events in May, is being held this fall in virtual form, with World Central Kitchen and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank as partners. Events include a cook-a-thon fundraiser Oct. 17. Cooking columnist Ben Mims, senior food writer Jenn Harris and I will cohost 30 chefs and celebrities from Los Angeles, the nation and the world. The Food team compiled an accompanying guide for the year’s theme, “Takeout and Give Back.”

Closer at hand, an L.A. Times Dinner Series kicks off Sept. 5 with a three-course collaboration meal between Jon Yao of Kato and Mei Lin of Nightshade; the menu includes dry scallop porridge and pork belly ssam. Dinners will be picked up on the day of the event, and my colleague Lucas Kwan Peterson will host a video chat with the chefs while participants dine together online.


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