Today’s side dish experiment brings back memories of grandma. And childhood summers and the big old birches by the old house under which we’d set our lunch on sunny days. That house, like granny, has since decomposed. But the memories live on. Sounds, smells, atmosphere, food.
I was in London (and Scotland) for my half-term holidays. I spent one day at the National Archive researching a pet-project. To reward myself for good work (I actually found some relevant information), I treated myself to a fancy dinner out all by myself.
I’d googled places to eat in London, and found this gorgeous pop-up restaurant, Pied Nus. They let you pick several dishes, in tapas style, and I probably picked one too many because I practically rolled back to my hotel… But it was a lovely, lovely meal.
One dish brought back the childhood memories I mentioned: Scallop ceviche with fennel and cucumber. My grandma used to make a traditional Eastern Finnish side dish, thin cucumber slices in vinegar with dill. Guess you could call it fresh pickled cucumber or just vinegar cucumber. To distinguish it from your typical salty pickled cucumber. Anyway, you add sugar and sometimes a bit of salt to balance it out. It’s a refreshing summer dish, good with fish or potato salad.
The basic, traditional recipe is: 1 dl vinegar, 1 dl of water, 1 dl of sugar, fresh cucumber (thin slices) and chopped dill.
The scallop ceviche at Pied Nus had cucumber slices in sushi vinegar (as the waitress gushed when I pointed out the lovely balance in the dish). So the effect was wonderfully similar to how my granny used to make. But there was also a nice Asian twist to it. Something to try at home, perhaps. The sweetness of the sushi vinegar (store bought, from a Japanese shop) means you don’t have to add any sugar, like in the original Finnish recipe. You could also make your own sushi vinegar to get your desired sweetness level.The interweb abounds with recipes for it. I couldn’t be arsed.
My Asian-inspired experiment:
- 1/2 dl sushi vinegar
- 1/2 dl water
- 100 g cucumber, thinly sliced
- a small handful of coriander, chopped
Best with (delicate) seafood. You could go all sorts of places with this one. Use any kind of herbs, experiment with different vinegars, maybe even add lime juice, chopped chilli, sesame seeds… In fact, my next batch is going to be with chilli. It seems to be crying out for it. I feel a cold rice noodle salad coming on…
Meanwhile, the pickled cucumbers should keep in the fridge quite nicely…
As for the inspiration: http://www.piedsnus.co.uk