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Thursday, March 4, 2010 07:07 am

Picklese (a.k.a. Pikliz)

This classic Haitian condiment can be found on every table, sometimes even when there isn’t a table. The liquid is used as a hot sauce; in other dishes the thinly sliced vegetables are a sort of slaw/pickle condiment for meat or vegetable preparations. Scotch bonnet peppers are traditional –– but their close relatives, habañeros, can be substituted and are more easily found in local groceries. Pepper aficionados distinguish between them, but Scotch bonnets and habeñeros share a flavor profile unique among chilies, as well as a similar Scoville index – the measurement used to classify chiles’ heat levels. Both are incendiary: this condiment is not for the faint of heart. 

  • 6 Scotch bonnet peppers, or   substitute habañeros
  • 2 c. very thinly sliced cabbage
  • ½ c. very thinly sliced carrots
  • ¼ c. very thinly sliced onion, not super-sweet, preferably red
  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher or sea salt
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 12 peppercorns
  • approximately 3 c. distilled white vinegar

Use rubber gloves when handling the peppers; alternately, coat your hands with oil before slicing. Stem the peppers and remove the seeds. Slice into thin slivers and place into a medium-large non-reactive bowl. Add the cabbage, carrots, onion and salt and toss to combine. Let stand for about 15 minutes; the salt will wilt the vegetables.

Crush the cloves, allspice and peppercorns lightly with a mallet or the back of a heavy skillet and add to the bowl. Let stand for another 15 minutes, or about 30 minutes total for the vegetables and spices mixed together.

Put the mixture into a quart jar, including any liquid. Add enough vinegar to fill to the top, and stir to combine. Cover tightly and let stand for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours before using, then refrigerate. Makes 1 quart.

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