Fusion cuisine has been trending since the ’90s, with consumers loving fresh new combinations of two (or more!) cuisines from different countries. It’s a no brainer: why not take advantage of your country’s multiculturalism and combine a few foods that you love to make something unique?
Lately, fusion dishes have taken on a new level and are increasingly incorporating pickled and brined foods, particularly in mashups that use Vietnamese or Korean food. Think burgers with lashings of kimchi, brined chicken tacos made with soft steamed buns, and pulled pork banh mi piled high with pickled daikon and carrots. Consumers love the punch that the sour, bitter, spicy, and tangy flavors of fermented foods pack. Plus, they’re great for digestion.
Natural fermentation has been shown to preserve the nutrients in food and break it down to a more digestible form. Probiotics are created in the fermentation process so consuming fermented products actually improves digestion, improves immunity and helps slow or reverse some diseases. In a time where desserts are getting more and more gluttonous and over-the-top, people are taking a step back and favoring these savory foods.
Here’s the low down on everything pickled and fermented.
Fermenting converts carbohydrates to alcohols or organic acids using yeast and/or bacteria. Fermenting vegetables is a relatively simple process: salt or a starter culture is added to water with the vegetable of choice, then everything is packed into a fermentation vessel that has an airlock. Once the food is adequately fermented and ready to eat (which can take anywhere from a few days to a few months), transfer it to a second sealable container for storage.
Popular foods for fermentation are cabbage (to make kimchi or sauerkraut), or cucumbers (to make the humble pickle). Wine and beer are the obvious fermented beverages, but there’s also something called kombucha that has been gaining popularity in the past couple of years. Using a culture that ferments a mix of tea and a sweetener, kombucha is a slightly fizzy, sweet and sour refreshing drink.
Fermented Fusions to Try: How about a cocktail using bourbon, Angostura bitters, Asian pear and ginger kombucha? Or a hamburger with wasabi mayo and fried kimchi? Or tacos filled with Nem, a Vietnamese fermented pork?
Pickling preserves food by fermenting it in a brine or vinegar solution. Again, it’s a relatively easy process: a vinegar solution is boiled, then transferred to a storage container and into the fridge. If you’re planning on storing your pickled vegetables out of the fridge, you’ll need to use a pressure canner.
Pickled Fusions to Try: A soft roll filled with pulled pork and pickled daikon; pickled Vietnamese mustard greens served with fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
Watch a simple pickling preparation:
Try your hand at pickling or fermenting some of your favorite veggies today.
Cambro offers a variety of storage containers that can be used to store your pickled and fermented dishes. The clear and durable material allows kitchen staff to easily identify the contents, and a variety of container shapes and covers are available to suit every style. Check them out here.