These salt and sugar pickles draw on a technique shared by Alice Waters yet originated with David Chang, the chef behind the famed Momofuku empire in Manhattan. They’re simple, as per Waters’ style, yet brilliant, which is Chang’s forte. Fusion food, you could say. (What’s Momofuku, you ask, glancing around to see if your mom heard you say that? Relax. The translation is “Lucky Peach.” Makes all the sense in the world now, doesn’t it?)Renee Schettler Rossi

Four bowls of salt and sugar pickles; one with watermelon, one with red radish, one with cucumber, and one with daikon radish.

Salt and Sugar Pickles

5 / 2 votes
These salt and sugar pickles, made with radishes, cucumber, and watermelon, come together in just 15 minutes. The perfect pickles to satisfy your sweet and salty craving as soon as it hits. Quickles!
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories73 kcal
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time15 minutes


  • 3 large radishes
  • 2 thin daikon radishes
  • 2 thin-skinned cucumbers with few seeds
  • 2 pounds seedless watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar


  • Arrange the vegetables and fruit in separate bowls. There should be about 1 1/2 cups of each kind.
  • Halve the radishes and slice them into thin wedges. Cut the daikon radishes crosswise into slices about 1/8-inch thick. Cut the cucumbers crosswise into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Remove the rind of the watermelon and cut the fruit into slices 1/8-inch thick and then into 2-inch wedges.
  • In a small bowl, combine the salt and sugar. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture over each ingredient and toss. Let the pickles stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Arrange the vegetables in separate dishes or on a platter and serve immediately.
In The Green Kitchen by Alice Waters

Adapted From

In the Green Kitchen

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 73 kcalCarbohydrates: 18 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 586 mgPotassium: 272 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 15 gVitamin A: 1291 IUVitamin C: 19 mgCalcium: 18 mgIron: 1 mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2010 Alice Waters. Photo © 2010 Christopher Hirsheimer. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

What an interesting concept! Making lightning-speed pickles with just a touch of sugar and salt. All you do is cut up vegetables–daikon, radishes, cucumber, as well as watermelon rind–and sprinkle on some salt and sugar and let the vegetables sit for a few minutes. Voila! Sort-of pickles!

The salt, of course, draws out the moisture and creates some liquid in which the sugar mixes with the salt. The instructions said to allow the pickles to sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and I found that I liked them best at just over 10 minutes, when everything melded together. A nifty idea. The little dishes of pickles looked cute, too.

This would be cool to serve with a grilled or barbecued meal with friends. Wonder what a few pepper flakes would do? Too late—the pickles are all gone.

Oh my goodness, I love this recipe. I make these pickles often, slicing radishes and cucumbers very thinly on the mandoline and placing them in a single layer on a platter. I like a salty snack with my pre-dinner cocktail, and these are the perfect light appetizer. I use kosher salt and raw sugar so the grains are still present even after the pickles release their liquid.

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The moment I saw this recipe in Alice Waters’ cookbook, I stopped working and went to the kitchen and made it. In less than 15 minutes I was in awe at the way such a simple embellishment to raw vegetables made all the difference. All. The. Difference. I’m smitten.

About David Leite

David Leite has received three James Beard Awards for his writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


    1. Diane, there’s not any acidity in the recipe and so it’s not safe to ferment. But try it fresh. It’s truly wonderful and you keep the splendid freshness and crunch of the ingredients you use!

  1. 5 stars
    I just had to comment on these poor little orphan pickles. 😉 What a great find for this time of year. These would be great to snack while you’re waiting for the grilled stuff to be ready, or to toss in a salad or a rollup. I’m with Brenda — I think a little heat would be a treat! Heh.

    1. Give them a try, Ruthie- you will love them. Hugh’s recipes are great and he is a pretty great fella to boot.