Thai cucumber and shallot quick pickles (Ajad) are an easy and delicious Thai recipe that can easily be made and kept in the refrigerator for a few days.
Thai condimets such as Ajad are very popular to serve with a meal, especially with bowls of noodle soups or Pad Thai. This allows each dinner to adjust the heat and sourness of a dish to their taste.
The word Ajad was probably adapted into Thai from the Sanskrit word for pickle, अचार (achār), or it might be related to the Persian and Urdu آچار (âčâr) which also means pickle – no one knows for certain.
Most Ajad recipes served in the U.S. are very simple, calling for equal parts of sugar and vinegar mixed together with some cilantro and sliced chiles before tossing with cucumber and shallot.
My version is adapted from a recipe much closer to the version served in Thailand, using more complex spices, less sugar (and I prefer real palm sugar in this dish, if you can find it) plus a touch of smokiness and some chopped peanuts for texture.
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- The Hirshon Thai Cucumber Pickles – อาจาด
- 3 cups Asian cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, chopped
- ⅓ cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts, crushed
- MIXTURE 1
- 4 Thai red chile or red Fresno peppers, seeded (use more or less to your taste)
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons cilantro root, pounded
- 2 teaspoons peppercorns, crushed
- Optional: smoked Thai chile powder to taste*
- MIXTURE 2
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Thai soy sauce
- ¼ cup palm sugar or more to taste (up to ½ cup)
- Place cucumber & shallot in a large bowl & toss.
- Place mixture 1 in a blender & blend to make a rough paste.
- Blend mixture 2 by hand, then mix together mixtures 1 & 2. Pour this combined mixture over the cucumbers & sliced shallots. Toss to evenly coat the cucumbers and shallots.
- Chill to develop flavors.
- Place in a small dish and garnish with chopped fresh cilantro leaves and crushed peanuts. Eat as an accompaniment to any Thai main course – it is especially good with Pad Thai.
- *Smoked Thai Chile powder can be purchased in Thai markets, or make your own by roasting dry chiles (try Chiles de Arbol, easily available in the U.S.) in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Toss continually to prevent burning – they should turn a shade or two darker red but do not let them blacken except in a few spots. Be sure and open the window first as the chile fumes can be extremely strong. Grind toasted chiles in a spice grinder to a powder and store in a tightly-sealed container.
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