During the latter part of my high school years, a friend and I made atcharang sili (pickled pepper) in our home. We'd let it "cook" for less than a week, then we'd munch on the green pepper, whose spiciness has mellowed a bit, and with a good measure of sweet and sour mixed in.
The recipe was lost in time, for I think we only made around 8 jars between us, then they transferred to another place. And that was that.
I was reminded of this pickled delight late last year, and so I asked around for someone who knew how to do it. Since there was a number of food bloggers at blogkadahan, I ventured a question. And a recipe was thus provided by Romesez. I knew I just had to try the recipe. It was quite simple, really. Chop the ingredients, taste the vinegar-sugar-salt mixture to your preference, mix 'em all up, then let it sit for about a week.
I bought the ingredients last Saturday with my wife. However, we cannot find any baby onions. A search in the local market yielded the same result.
Incidentally, my mother in law arrived very early this morning. She came here to meet her son who has just arrived from abroad. But I think they made arrangements for him to visit us here instead of us going to Batangas, so they started making fresh lumpia (wrapped vegetables -- is my translation correct? harhar)and potato salad for tomorrow. And while they cut and diced the vegetables, I also joined in the fun in making the atchara.
Well, my mother-in-law has a different recipe for acharang sili. Different from mine, and different from Romesez's. I wouldn't know yet how it will taste like, but here is the recipe:
1/2 kilo Sili (green pepper) - stem removed, sliced halfway, seeds removed (the recipe I know had whole pickled peppers, seeds included)
3 medium Carrots, sliced - score for presentation by creative slicing
2 cloves Garlic - peeled and sliced
2 medium Onions - baby onions preferred. but as substitute, we sliced medium, red onions. Crying is optional.
a bunch of chives, chopped
1 liter cane sugar vinegar
roughly-ground black pepper to taste
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons salt
Procedure and story-telling:
Chopping the vegetables took some time to do. Because I insisted to do it alone because they were cooking other dishes. But our household help proceeded to slice the green pepper and remove the seeds. This resulted in hot, aching hands hours after the chore was done.
In a pan over moderate heat, pour the cane vinegar. Add the black pepper, salt and sugar. Mix and taste to your preference. This was rather difficult because the cane vinegar was strong! I couldn't detect the taste of the sugar. My in-law took a sample, sprinkled some more salt, and said it's ok. She said you have to smell it as well to detect the sugar. I did, and the strong vinegary smell overwhelmed my sense of smell and almost made me sneeze. Hmmmm.
After bringing this mixture to a boil, turn of the heat to let it cool down. This took a couple of hours, so I spent it eating fresh lumpia and playing Final Fantasy X. Afterwards, the rest of the chopped vegetables were added. It looked like chop suey (mixed fried vegetables), actually.
Put this mixture into glass jars. My in-law said it's ready to eat! And it lasts longer than the method I knew. I think I'll wait for a couple of days to taste it so that the green pepper has absorbed the sweet and sour mix.
I would like to thank Romesez and Blogkadahan for sharing their insights, my mother-in-law for giving the recipe a new twist, and to our household help Babylyn for cleaning up the green pepper! Update on Wednesday!
Today's quote is brought to you by Mother Goose:
"Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers;
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked;
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?"