Vinegar is one of the oldest fermented liquids known to man. It has been used for thousands of years to flavour food, as a preservative and a medicine.
Like wine, vinegar varieties range from the ordinary and inexpensive to the exotic and pricey.
Among some of the most interesting are:
Raspberry vinegar: I used to make my own by crushing raspberries and steeping them in white vinegar. But not since I discovered Prenzel's combo prepared from cabernet sauvignon vinegar, that has been barrel fermented for five years, and raspberries.
The mellow vinegar is excellent drizzled over strawberries and icecream, and in dressings and savoury sauces.
Balsamic vinegar: A gift from Modena in Italy and the most expensive vinegar.
Deep brown in colour, it has a smooth, mellow taste with barely a hint of sharpness.
True balsamic is made from the trebbiano grape and aged in wooden casks for between five and 50 years.
Drizzle over veges for an easy and low-calorie dressing. Or make a sweet-sour glaze by combining equal amounts of balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. Stir and simmer until it thickens.
Malt vinegar: Brewed from malted barley, this has been in Kiwi pantries for generations.
My grandmother sprinkled it over fish'n'chips but I love it in a dip for chips or chicken - combine half a cup of mayo, a quarter cup each of malt vinegar and sour cream, two teaspoons of Dijon-style mustard and a clove of crushed garlic.
Japanese rice vinegar - Su: Produced in various strengths but all are still milder than most Western vinegars.
Lightness and relative sweetness are characteristics. Su flavours sushi as well as soups, dressings, sweet-and-sour and fish dishes.
CHICKEN WITH RASPBERRY VINEGAR SAUCE
2 large or 4 small skinned and boned chicken breasts
cup Prenzel raspberry vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 small spring onion, diced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup frozen raspberries
A little honey or sugar to sweeten, if required
Thickening: 1 tsp cornflour
2 Tbsp water Divide each breast in half lengthwise and place in a plastic bag. Whisk the vinegar, 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, mustard, spring onion and pepper until well combined. Pour over the chicken. Move it around so it is well coated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
Heat the remaining oil in a small, heavy frying pan. Pat the chicken dry. Pan-fry for about two minutes each side, until lightly coloured. Place in an oven dish. Cover and place in oven for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, add the marinade to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat. Add the raspberries and heat through. Sweeten if required. Thicken, if preferred, with the cornflour mixed with the water. Heat gently until thick.
Slice each chicken breast into 4 to 5 thick pieces. Arrange on serving plates. Top with the raspberry sauce. Serves 4.
TAMARILLO, APPLE & BANANA CHUTNEY
2.5kg red tamarillos, peeled and chopped
500g each: onions, cooking apples
1 cup chopped pitted dates
1 large banana, diced
4 cups brown sugar
3 cups malt vinegar
1 tsp each: mixed spice, curry powder, chilli powder
Place the tamarillos in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Stir well. Bring to the boil. Simmer on very low heat - stirring often - for 1 to 1 hours, or until thick. Cool before storing in sterilised jars and sealing.
Makes about 8 cups.
BALSAMIC ONION MARMALADE
1 cup olive oil
3 cups finely sliced onions
cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
5 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
tsp each: salt, white pepper
Heat the oil on low in a heavy saucepan. Add the onions and saute until cooked but not browned. Add the vinegar, red wine, sugar, mustard seeds, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Cook over low heat until it thickens like a marmalade. Be careful the jam does not stick and burn on the base. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Can be stored for up to 1 week. Makes about 1 cup.
FISH & BACON WRAP WITH RICE VINEGAR DRIZZLE
2 skinned and boned, thick white fish fillets
2-3 rashers streaky bacon
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp olive oil
cup each: rice vinegar, lite sour cream Form the fillets into neat shapes. Starting at one end, wrap each fillet in bacon. Secure with toothpicks. Season with oregano and black pepper.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan. Pan-fry the fillets for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness. Turn often. Remove to a warm plate, cover and keep warm.
Deglaze the pan with the rice vinegar. Stir in the sour cream and heat through. Drizzle over the fish.
Copyright Jan Bilton
- The Marlborough Express
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