We Can Pickle That!
by Jonathan Almerido
Hello nerds of the interwebz and/or hungry hungry users of The Net!
After a long absence, I’m back for this post. Because I’ve been taking summer courses and working on way more projects than I had ever anticipated, I haven’t really been able to blog. I do, however, have this one recipe for y’all. I promise, I’ll blog more regularly once I finish up with summer school.
So. Where to catch up fellow friends, followers, and internet stalkers (I’m flattered you guys, I’m flattered. I’ll send you an envelope full of my hair later, but you should tell me if I should wash it first or let it get a little greasy). I guess, as per the tradition of my posts, I’ll try to persuade you guys to engage with a piece of pop culture that hasn’t received much widespread attention.
Louie, a little golden nugget of television that is written, directed, produced, and edited (or, at least, for the first two seasons) by its star Louis CK, is one of the best comedies I’ve had the honor of watching all year. Detractors may say/yell/type furiously, “BUT JONATHAN IT’S NOT EVEN THAT FUNNY HOW IS IT ONE OF THE BESTEST?!” As is the case with another TV gem, Girls, I do admit the Louie isn’t always funny (it’s the same with Glee, too, except that’s something no one talks about anymore unless they immediately hang their head in shame). There are even some episodes where I didn’t laugh once. Nonetheless, Louie has an incredibly engaging writing structure that constantly questions the grounds of its own diegesis. While it’s clear that the diegetic Louie/Louis is both a comedian and father, the stand-up segments almost entirely exist independently of any given episode’s main narrative. Rather than being integrated into the diegesis, I would argue that the show consists of a dialectic between two diegesis – the show’s somewhat traditional sitcom narrative (more on that later) and the stand-up segments. Most episodes begin with a stand-up segment in which Louie makes a point regarding a particular theme for the episode (or, in some cases, segment of the episode). What follows is a narrative in which Louie comes to question the terms of the argument presented in his stand-up comedy. While this set-up is in fact highly formulaic, the show maintains consistently high quality due to the relative unfamiliarity of these “themes” (in relationship to more standard television) and because the diegesis of its more sitcom-y half draws the majority of the show’s humor from an incredibly elastic view of reality. What’s more, Louis CK more than aptly navigates the thick line between this reality’s ridiculousness and the seriousness required of him when he is forced to confront and question the terms of his stand-up. This is all a long way of drooling over CK’s blatant prowess at acting in, writing, and directing his own show.
The reason I bring this up is because Louie pop culturally manifests one of the most important experiences that I have had all summer. This experience comes in waves and multitudes. It’s that one where the funniest thing suddenly becomes serious, and I have to critically reconsider the terms by which I have been enjoying myself. This isn’t to say that I’ve become incredibly, incredibly serious, but that I’m starting to demand of myself a more critical eye towards my relationship to the universe (whoa, broad scope there).
So, how’s about some food?
Unlike most blog posts that seem to garner more traffic and readerly connection, I don’t have an incredibly personal story to tell about this recipe. I don’t even really know if I can call it a recipe because I made it up and, more importantly, I’ve only made it twice. I don’t know how foolproof it is, but it’s pretty danggam easy. Also, I’m calling these vegetables “pickled” because my understanding of pickling was that it includes submersing the pickled component in an acid of sorts (usually vinegar). However, if my process is not technically pickling, SOMEONE SHOULD CALL ME OUT ON IT, I DARE YOU, BECAUSE WE CAN ALL LEARN FROM EACH OTHER. No, but really. I’m not a pro cook, so I don’t ever expect to be accurate all the time.
And here’s the log line: chewy, nutty brown rice pairs perfectly with the sweet, salty, peppery, and acidic bite of pickled vegetables. Add tofu and almonds for protein, and you’ve got yourself a simple, light, and refreshing gluten-free meal.
(we can pickle that!)
Brown rice with pickled vegetables
2 c long-grain brown rice
5 c water
2 carrots, julienned/cut into matchsticks/grated at your convenience
Medium cucumber, julienned/cut into matchsticks/grated at your convenience
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed thinly.
Inch ginger, peeled and grated or minced finely
2 jalapeños, sliced into rings
1/4 – 1/3 lb. radishes, julienned/cut into matchsticks (to be clear, I bought exactly .38 lb. loose radishes but lost some weight by trimming the stems)
Red onion, quartered and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
Handful minced cilantro, about 1/4 c (alternatively, you can use basil, mint, or a combination of these)
Juice of one lime, with halves reserved
3 T sugar
Liberal sprinkle of cayenne pepper (optional)
Pound firm tofu, patted dried and cubed
1. Rinse rice and drain. Add the rice to a medium-large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, add water, and bring to a boil, covered. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until the rice absorbs all of the liquid.
Or at least that’s what the rice instructions say. I have consistently mixed results with rice, but these are almost the universal proportions and cooking times for making rice. I can certainly vouch for them, at least.
2. While the rice is boiling, make the pickled vegetables. In a large bowl or container with tight-fitting lid, toss the vegetables with the lime juice, lime halves, cilantro, sugar, cayenne (if using), and salt and pepper to taste. Pour enough vinegar to cover about half the vegetables and toss again. Replace lid or cover with plastic wrap. Set aside or refrigerate as you cube the tofu.
3. For individual servings, scoop rice into a bowl and top with pickled vegetables, tofu cubes, slivered almonds, then sriracha to taste.
(so I’m not the best photographer and there’s crud up on that bowl. Sawri)
And here’s a song for your time: