Pickling is an integral part of Asian and Latin cuisines. Chefs at two Hong Kong restaurants tell us why they are making their own.
Janice Leung Hayes – scmp.com
Until recently, making your own pickles would have had you labelled a grandma, but nowadays many restaurants are happily offering their own jarred creations.
Vinny Lauria, executive chef of modern American restaurant Stone Nullah Tavern, thinks interest in pickling is rising as food trends steer us away from classical French cuisine. He says: “Classical French cuisine was a foundation for a lot of Western cuisines, and you didn’t see pickle-making as much in that kind of food. However, it’s always been an integral part of a lot of Asian cuisines and in Latin cuisines.”
At modern Vietnamese restaurant Viet Kitchen, executive chef Peter Cuong Franklin creates his own pickles using his own recipe. “The key ingredients include vinegar, chilli, garlic, sugar, salt, whole black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns.”
He uses a quick technique that is common in Vietnam to create pickles in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks. Franklin says pickles are key in heightening the flavour of dishes such as his crispy pork skewers. “The banh mi sandwich would not be the same without the pickled carrots and daikon, which provide a balancing sweet and sour flavour and add a textural element,” he says.
At Stone Nullah Tavern, Lauria says they’ve pickled everything from beets to pig’s feet. At the moment they are serving pickled chillies, cucumbers, beets and garlic. He offers meatloaf sliders served with “picklebacks” — a shot of cheap bourbon chased by a shot of pickling juice from the dill pickles used in the sliders.