Spicy Quick Pickled Broccoli

Spicy Quick Pickled BroccoliI loved family dinner parties at my grandparents’ house.

My perception as a little girl, was that my grandparents were fancy.

No matter what the occasion, Christmas Eve or a typical weekend evening, the table was set much like that in the upstairs dining room in Downton Abbey. Okay, so my grandparents didn’t use a ruler to place the silverware, and they set it without a butler in site.  However, the china sparkled, the silver shined, and there were always too many forks for me to know which to use and when.

My grandfather always sat at the head of the table and carved the meat — a ceremony in and of itself, which he loved. While he carved, my grandmother would place platters and bowls of beautifully arranged food strategically down the center of the table — each one prettier than the next.Spicy Quick Pickled Broccoli There were always small dishes of sides – olives, mushrooms and my favorite, pickled broccoli.  This delicious dish was tangy, sweet and a bit spicy.  Though I wish it was, this isn’t my grandmother’s recipe.  I don’t have it, so I did what I thought might be similar, and if my memory serves me well, this is pretty close.  My grandmother, would have of course, served hers in a lovely crystal bowl, with a shiny fork to match.

I miss those dinners.

Spicy Quick Pickled Broccoli
Prep time
Total time
Serves: Serves about 4
  • about 1-pound fresh broccoli
  • sprinkling of sea salt
  • ¾ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1½ teaspoons chili paste (I like Sambal Oelek)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  1. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
  2. Cut the broccoli into uniform spears.  Rinse, dry, add them to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Place a steamer rack into a pot with the water level just below it.  Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and then add the broccoli to the rack, sprinkle it with salt and cover.  Steam just until the broccoli is tender, about 4 minutes. 
  4. Drain the broccoli and immediately add it to the bowl of ice water. Leave it for about 5 minutes, drain again and set aside to dry. (The ice water "shocks" the broccoli, with stops the cooking process and helps keep the color bright.)
  5. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the vinegar with the sesame oil, chili paste, garlic, and sugar. Pour this mixture into a heavy-duty zip-lock bag and add the broccoli. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible and place it in a bowl (in case it leaks), in the refrigerator.
  6. Let the broccoli marinate for about 1 hour, drain and serve.
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  1. says

    What a lovely post, Valentina! I’m sure your grandmother would love that you tried to recreate her pickled broccoli. I love anything pickled, so I’d totally be into this side-dish, especially since it’s spicy!

    • valentina says

      Adrienne, I have been thinking about the root-beer float a lot. I don’t think I’d even upgrade it b/c it was so perfect. (Grandpa’s vigorous stirring was my favorite part of the entire process.) xo V

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