If you were to ask me for a handful of great restaurants in San Francisco, I will most likely mention Schmidt’s. We go there quite often for pea pancakes, but they also have a spectacular rotation of seasonal salads. That’s how I ran into this amazing little gem. It’s briny and sweet and salty and bitter and crunchy… but also deceptively simple on first impression.
So I stole it.
The first step in making this salad is to pickle some fennel. It’s so easy! I prefer to pickle my vegetables using the Momofuku method – a quick no-cook, brine bath in the fridge for a few days. I prefer to use apple cider vinegar for these instead of rice vinegar because it imparts a fruity sweetness. I also like a bit more salt and a bit less sugar depending on my mood. Some days need less sweet than others…
Another fun modification to this salad is time. Depending on how much patience you have (I don’t possess much)… you can achieve a stronger pickle by soaking it for days rather than a day as I usually do. Just taste your pickle each day to check for done-ness and serve it when it’s ready!
Recipe for Pickled Fennel Salad
2 small fennels
1 medium endive
1 ruby red grapefruit, peeled or sliced
1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
2/3 c. boiling water
1-2 ts. salt
mint, garlic, or pickling spices
+ Slice 1 fennel into thin slices for pickling. Put pickling herbs and spices into a small jar and fill with sliced fennel.
+ Make brine by mixing hot water, apple cider vinegar, salt, and sugar until fully dissolved. Pour into pickling jar. Seal and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Will last for about 1 week. Taste each day for “done-ness.”
+ To serve salad: mix pickled fennel with sliced fresh fennel, endive and grapefruit with a splash of grapeseed oil or something similarly light. Serve with a small drizzle of pickling brine and some flaked sea salt.