Right off the hop: I stole this idea from Ben Staley. He made “Green Plum Cured like an Olive” at Alta (RIP) and it really blew my mind. Not sure if he is serving these at Yarrow or not. After my meal at Alta I talked to Ben briefly and asked how he made the plum olives. If I remember right he said they were fermented in brine, then pressure-cooked with a bit of vinegar. I’ve since done some research and it tuns out that pickled green plums are actually quite common across North Africa and the Middle East. Still, I owe Ben for introducing me to the concept.
To be clear we are talking about plums that are … Continue reading.
I had heard of kosher pickles many, many times in my life, but always assumed that they were just pickles that were, well, kosher, as in approved for consumption in Jewish dietary law. Turns out that is not the case, and kosher pickles are actually a particular style of pickle, one that is naturally fermented like those described in this post on lacto-pickles. If you are familiar with sauerkraut you are familiar with lactic acid fermentation. Anyways kosher pickles are the real-deal accompaniment to deli sandwiches like smoked meat or pastrami.
If you grew up on Bick’s, kosher pickles will seem strange. They have no sugar, in fact no sweetness at all besides whatever natural sweetness might be … Continue reading.
I have come to realize that I am quite resistant to new ideas. For me, new ideas are anything that I didn’t grow up with or study in school. For years I scoffed at modernist techniques and equipment like immersion circulators, xanthan gum, and anti-griddles. (Actually I’m still not convinced of the usefulness of that last one). I was even more vehement in my opposition to hippie fads like veganism, raw food, and more recently, kombucha.
In retrospect it is crazy that I didn’t look into kombucha earlier. For a couple summers I sold homemade raw apple cider vinegar at the 124th Street Grand Market. To my surprise, about 90% of the people who bought vinegar from me were … Continue reading.
Kim chi is an ace up the sleeve, delivering instant, intense flavour to bland ingredients like rice, flour, and eggs. And unlike most condiments that pack that kind of punch – things like hot sauce or fish sauce – kim chi is quite wholesome.
Kim chi fascinates me because it is simultaneously very similar to and wildly different from a preparation that I am much more familiar with: sauerkraut. Both are ostensibly fermented cabbage, but where sauerkraut is thinly sliced and acidic, with an almost floral, yeasty aroma, kim chi is chunky, salty, often burn-your-face-off spicy, with something of a fishy aroma. Sometimes, amazingly, it is also effervescent.
Sauerkraut is made with European-type cabbages like savoy. The relatively low … Continue reading.
This post was originally published on September 17, 2013. I’m re-posting it todayfor those that attended my session at Eat Alberta 2017.
Kraut is German for “herb”. It was also a derogatory term for Germans during the Second World War. Sauerkraut means “sour herb”, or possibly “German curmudgeon”. Why this preparation would be called sour herb I have no idea.
Ukrainian, Russian and several other eastern European languages use the word kapusta to refer to fresh cabbage, cured cabbage, and various dishes made with one or both of those.
Sauerkraut is a miracle preparation. Cabbage and salt. That’s it. Somehow liquid appears from thin air and submerges the cabbage. Over a few weeks, though neither cabbage nor salt are acidic, … Continue reading.
I come from a land of “refrigerator pickles”: cucumbers steeped in syrupy vinegar and spices, and stored in the fridge through the fall. There is another type of pickle called a lacto-fermented pickle. The idea of producing an acidic pickle with only brine was a revelation.
There are two ways to apply the salt and control the salt concentration: either dry salt can be added directly to the ingredient, or the ingredient can be submerged in a brine.
Direct Salting. This method is more common when the ingredient to be fermented has been sliced or chopped finely. Sauerkraut is the most familiar example in the west. For this method we typically add about 2% of the weight of the ingredient … Continue reading.