Those frightening jars of bright red pickled beets and, even worse, eggs, that lurked in the pantry and basement at Grandma’s house looked anything but appetizing. But it turns out that Grandma was just ahead of her time.
As evidenced by the fare at several local restaurants, 2013 is shaping up to be the year for pickling. Chefs from coast to coast are pickling just about anything they can get their hands on. Take fatty meats, which tend to include cheaper cuts of beef and pork. These cheaper cuts are even more popular now with the price of meat on the rise. Since these cuts are typically prepared in a rich manner, chefs balance out the fattiness with acids. Pickled ingredients cleanse the palate and give a burst of flavor. This also lets the diner finish every last morsel without feeling sluggish.
Local chefs are all over this trend. At Rebel House in Boca (297 East Palmetto Park Road), the kitchen is pickling everything from tomatoes to mustard seeds. Try the shrimp taco “El Jefe Luchador” with pickled jicama slaw and chipotle aioli—or the lamb Denver ribs with house kimchee, a Korean pickled cabbage, with peanuts and barbecue.
Another restaurant up on the trend is Boca’s Kapow Noodle Bar (431 Plaza Real at Mizner Park). A number of its dishes are topped with house made kimchee slaw or pickled cucumbers. A couple favorites are the maitake mushroom buns and the bulgogi beef street tacos.
Even the area’s top fine-dining establishments are pickling. Café Boulud in Palm Beach (301 Australian Ave.) pickles its heirloom radish and carrots, cornichon and enoki mushrooms, which accompany winter green salads and pâtés.
Not only is this sourness penetrating the food world, but it’s also working its way into the wonderful world of cocktails. Craft brewers are diving headfirst into sour brews and taking a break from the more bitter IPAs. Look for Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Wild, New Holland Blue Sunday Sour and, a local favorite, Cigar City Sea Bass.
Pickling at home may sound daunting, but all you need is some sugar, vinegar, peppercorns and some lonely vegetables or fruit, and you’re onto something. Just stay away from the eggs. That memory can stay in Grandma’s pantry.
Hilary Hauser will be contributing blogs to the “Dining” section of bocamag.com as part of a required externship at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami.