Bring in the Funk: Why Boston Chefs Are Fermenting Their Food
When salt and veggies meet up, kick back, and take an extended vacation together in a sealed container, all sorts of strange, alluring, incredibly pungent (in a good way!) magic occurs. Fermentation may be the oldest preservation trick in the book, but itâ€™s become increasingly popular with local chefs looking to add unexpected pops of funky intensity to their dishesâ€”and a natural extension of todayâ€™s burgeoning DIY ethos. The technique of choice is lactic fermentation, a process by which the natural sugars in cabbage (or apples, or radishes, or any sugar-rich fruit or vegetable) break down via constant, weeks-long contact with salt, and occasionally a starter like whey, creating lactic acid bacteria and other digestion-aiding probiotics in the process. Those health benefits give the practice real staying power, says Sofra chef de cuisine Geoff Lukas, who makes fermented condiments like Middle Eastern green-mango-based amba and Indian-inspired lime pickles: â€śPeople are becoming more aware of what microbes actually are and what they do.â€ť Not the least of which is the creation of potent flavors like those found in the fiery hot sauce gracing the brunchtime eggs at Newtonâ€™s Farmstead Table; the tangy tomatoes accompanying the chicken confit at Tres Gatos; and all manner of kimchi (pictured), the crunchy, assertive Korean condiment thatâ€™s been showing up with increasing frequency on menus of every ethnic stripe.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/article/2013/12/31/fermenting-food/