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Book review: Pickled by Freddie Janssen

11 May 2016
Book review: Pickled by Freddie Janssen

Hardie Grant, £15

The style in which this book is written is quite irritating. I don't want to constantly read that pickling is "cool", "supercool" or "awesome". A book that offers information on a single aspect of cooking needs to be authoritative, reassuring and, most importantly, inspiring for those who are keen to learn but are inexperienced.

The message around health and nutrition - "fermentations are super-healthy for you, so eating these things make you a good person" - is equally annoying. Hopefully it is a bit tongue in cheek, but what about the excess use of salt in pickle-making, then? I love salty food, but have never thought of it as a nutritional bonus.

If you can swallow all this guff, then there are decent recipes to be had. The advice on kimchi - Korea's version of sauerkraut - is interesting, including the best types of cabbage to use. The kimchi Hollandaise is also intriguing.

Most of the recipes are quite achievable and there is the bonus of some excellent contributions from the likes of James Lowe, head chef at Lyle's in Shoreditch, who proposes a fine green tomato, mustard and pork belly bun. A smoked whipped lardo with pickled scotch bonnets from Isaac McHale of the Clove Club appears more challenging.

Janssen is Dutch and moved to London in 2008. Today she sells her pickles at Druid Street Market in Bermondsey, south London. She offers some nice touches from the Netherlands, including Dutch new herring; from further east, there is cardamom-pickled greengages and wasabi beets. And there are recipes from the New World, with chipotle-pickled eggs and Bourbon-pickled okra.

There is even a kimchi Bloody Mary and Martini variant called pickletini that calls for vodka, dry vermouth and dill pickle juice.

Good luck with it all. The book has a happy, chummy feel that does little for me, but it may just be your cup of pickling juice.

By Shaun Hill, chef-proprietor, the Walnut Tree, Llanddewi Skirrid, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

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