Chef and award-winning author Olia Hercules joins us to discuss her new cookbook Summer Kitchens: Recipes and Reminiscences from Every Corner of Ukraine. Filled with recipes and stories, along with Olia's own memories of growing up in Ukraine, the book is an exploration into the culinary identity of eastern Europe through food and travel photography. It's part of our series “Summer in Place.”
Makes enough to fill a 2-litre jar
This is one of the easiest and most satisfying ferments to make. Traditionally, long red chillies are used, but if you can get hold of them, fruity habaneros are fantastic. You can add whatever flavourings you like: lovage or celery leaves work well, as do sliced garlic cloves and the stronger tasting soft herbs, such as tarragon.
When the chillies are ready, the skins will be quite touch to eat, so I like to squeeze out the beautifully soft and fizzy flesh and blitz it into a paste in the blender. It is then excellent used as a condiment or to spike up a rich winter borsch, split pea soup or some spelt dumplings (page 1720; this summer, my husband mixed a spoonful with some yoghurt to dress a slaw. Do play around and get creative with it: think relishes and salsas, curries and stews, marinades for grilled meat, fish and vegetables -- the possibilities really are endless.
20g sea salt
20 red or green chillies
200g celery and/or lovage leaves, washed
1 celery stick, if needed
Pour 1 litre of water into a saucepan, add the salt and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Switch off the heat, then leave the brine to cool down to room temperature.
Put the chillies and leaves into a sterilised 2-litre jar with a lid, then pour in the brine, making sure everything is completely covered. If the chillies bob up again, wedge a spare celery stick across the neck of the jar to keep them submerged.
Cover with the lid and leave at room temperature for a few days, lifting the lid from time to time to release any fermentation gases. When you notice the brine becoming playfully fizzy, transfer the ferment to the fridge, where it will keep for many months, slowly getting more intensely sour and spicy.