There are only a handful of television series that I love and will watch over and over and over again. Okay, Alias is one; now The Bear is another. A few months ago a friend couldn't believe I hadn't seen this. So, when Jake and I were looking for something to watch and it popped up as a suggestion, we signed up for the free trial of the streaming platform and hunkered down. We watched the two seasons in a ridiculously short number of days. Literally. Two seasons in a couple of days.
As it's a show about a chef, his restaurant, and his (restaurant) family, there is a ton of food inspiration. I'll be making my way through the dishes that sent me into the kitchen. And there were a lot of them.
The second episode of the second season has us following the Carmy and Sydney's culinary experimentation as they work to develop the menu for their new restaurant. They talk about hamachi crudo and veal chop demi-glace. And Sydney offers him a taste of what she calls her lacto-fermented pickles. Their verdict: too much acid!
That threw me a little because my lacto-fermented pickles don't usually have any acid added to them. They are a fermented pickle instead of a vinegar pickle. They are sometimes referred to as 'half-sours' because they sit in a saltwater solution until they being to ferment. After about a week they are still crisp and slightly sour, but we are definitely more of a 'full-sour' family. So I leave them for about two weeks until they get nice and sour without any vinegar at all!
If you want to a little scientific, here are the details. The 'lacto' is short for lactobacillus bacteria which is not to be confused with lactose in dairy. Lacto-fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation in the world, involving only salt, water and vegetables. The brine creates an anaerobic environment - free of oxygen - where only lactobacillus bacteria can survive and preserves the vegetables.
4 Tablespoons salt
4 cups (filtered) water
1 pound organic cucumbers (I used Persian cucumbers)
1 head of fresh dill or 1 Tablespoon dill seed
1 head garlic, halved
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper chile flakes
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Also needed: large, sterile glass jar with lid
Place salt in the bottom of the jar. Pour in the filter water. Stir and swirl the jar until the salt is dissolved. Add the cucumbers and spices, leaving at least 2 inches of space at the top. You can keep the food submerged with a food safe weight or even a cabbage leaf.
Let sit in a cool, dark place for at least ten days or until it reaches your desired level of sourness, then refrigerate to halt the fermentation and store. The pickles will become more sour each day they ferment and the brine will turn cloudy.
Stay tuned for more recipes inspired by The Bear! As I mentioned, there are a lot.