Bar Food – Joe Jost’s Style Pickled Eggs Long Beach, California
This is the 100th article to be posted to this corner of the virtual cocktail party. I offer my deepest appreciation to those whom have contributed, read and inspired the work. May the contents of your carafe never wane and your company always bounteous with comrades true. You may always share a seat at my brass rail. Cheers!
Bar food is noble sustenance. From the well-placed bowl of mixed nuts to an apple and brie quesadilla by an establishment trying to raise the food bar, the well-timed nosh is often the enabling fuel to an elongated night of substantive frivolity. While I do enjoy grub from bars who try something new and creative, I find that I always enjoy the classically simple bar snacks. A good pretzel, an unending bowl of nuts that aren’t stale, and a good thick cut dill pickle are always a welcome sight. The king to me, however, hails from the eighty-seven year old Long Beach tavern known as Joe Jost’s. Since 1924, they have made the world’s best pickled egg.
I am generally a fan of things pickled. Be they a dill or butter pickled cucumber, a bowl of Mexican vegetales en escabeche or Japanese pickled prawns you can count me in. Yet, I have never been a fan of the most common form of pickled eggs; those pickled purple in the juice of red beets. They usually posses a kind of sweetness that I find odd and are generally not vinegary enough for my taste.
These eggs offered by Joe Jost’s are definitely not sweet and,instead, are slightly spicy. The spice comes from a twelve ounce can of yellow banana peppers that brings just enough heat to this party. You can find them in most latin markets labeled as chilis gueritos in twelve and twenty-four ounce jars and cans. Yellow Hungarian Wax peppers are very similar and may be used as well. Joe Jost’s pickled eggs are not reddish purple either. Instead, they are a bright canary yellow from both the yellow chili peppers and the addition of dried powdered turmeric.
Making these little numbers is a simple matter requiring only a big jar, some spices and seasonings, vinegar, water and some hard boiled eggs. Place eggs in jar along with all the other stuff and wait at least two days. You do not even have to refrigerate the finished product. In fact, you should not refrigerate them for at least two days after which feel free to put a chill on your juevos. You can feel safe about your eggs here as the vinegar based pickle strong enough to keep away bad bacteria. If you would like further proof, read up on Chinese thousand year eggs which cure for months without refrigeration and are delicious.
This recipe does offer a handy little kitchen tip. Most people familiar with the room in their place known as a kitchen have probably hard boiled an egg at least once. Trained chefs and those endowed with deep food geekery know that all eggs contain a small pocket of air nesting at the bottom of the fatter end of the egg. When you boil an egg, that pocket of air will expand and, from time to time, will cause the shell to crack before the egg is completely hard boiled. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes just fine for breakfast at home alone but is not presentable for company. The trick to avoid premature shell crackage is to make a tiny hole in the wide bottom of the egg with a push pin before cooking. Do not worry, liquid egg will not come running out of the hole.
The recipe calls for pickling spice for which I used a small bottle of McCormick pickling spice cheaply purchased from a local market. You may make your own simply enough by purchasing and blending your own dried herbs and spices. I have included a basic recipe for a homemade pickling spice below.
As you might imagine, it is easy to customize or riff off the basic recipe by adding and subtracting to your liking. I have added whole and/or dried garlic, rosemary, sage, dried chilies (especially chili de arbol and Thai chilies), fresh horseradish and much more. You may even vary the vinegar base used in the pickle. Simple white vinegar works best here in my opinion but red wine, rice and sherry vinegar can be wonderful options. What else can you pickle with this recipe? Virtually anything. Vegetables, fish, apples, melon. The list is long so go crazy and let me know what your craziest experiments are.
As there are numerous variations of places in which to take the well timed drink, so too are there numerous styles of comestibles offered to hungry patrons therein. As a cook first and a drinker second I appreciate the varied efforts proprietors pursue in order to ensure my abdominal vacancies are filled. Sometimes, though, with a cold schooner of beer in hand, what I want is a Polish sausage with hot mustard, a Joe Jost’s pickled egg and a fist full of pretzels. If you can make it to Long Beach, California you must avail yourself of a trip to Joe Jost’s. If not, enjoy a couple of these around a backyard grill with some good friends and some cold beer. You just won’t find better. I promise.
Joe Jost’s Style Pickled Eggs Recipe
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
1 (12 ounce) jar yellow chili peppers
2 tablespoons pickling spice
1 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
Mix all ingredients except eggs together in a glass jar* with tight-fitting lid. Put peeled eggs in liquid. Don’t refrigerate. Keep eggs in sealed jar at least two days before using. May refrigerate after two days. Liquid may be used for up to three more batches repeating as described above.
* The glass jar must be at hold at least 6 ounces (1/8 liter). As you can see in the pictures, I used an eight ounce Ball brand canning jar.
Homemade Pickling Spice Recipe
1/2 teaspoon loosely chopped cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried bay leaves or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh
1 teaspoon sliced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried cloves
1/2 teaspoon unground black pepper or 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried mace
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom pods
Combine all dried ingredients and store in a tight fighting jar or zip lock bag until use. Only add fresh ingredients when you are about to use them. Portion as your pickling recipes require.
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