Whenever I’m gourmet squatting, meaning I’m on a super-tight budget, but my palate is not, I go to the local, gourmet shanty spots. If you’re ever on my side of town, you’ll notice that Haitian take-out is to Miami what Chinese take-out is to New York—a dynamic part of the city’s culinary identity. From rice and beans and conch salad, to legume (a luscious, sweet Haitian vegetable stew) and griot (fried pork chunks), many restaurants offer obscene amounts of food for under $10. But when it’s super-duper-tight, I go to Chef Creole, where I order the deliciously filling rice and red beans ($1.50) and an extra side order of pikliz ($.50)—a pickled cabbage condiment that’s made with carrots, scotch bonnet pepper and vinegar.
From kitchen to kitchen, each cook has his or her own poetic interpretation of pikliz, some adding sour orange or sugar, and others adding aromatic cloves. Just a sprinkle can take any dish from tasty to amazing. Just think of sauerkraut but spicier. I try to always have a jar of pikliz in the fridge, lathering up sausages, smothering frittatas, and adding it to salsa and guacamole. It’s like a sexy slaw for the pyromaniacal palate.
This recipe is inspired by Chef Wilkinson "Ken" Sejour, Owner of Chef Creole Seafood & Catering, and Mirta Yurnet-Thomas, author of “A Taste of Haiti.”
2 cups shredded or thinly sliced green cabbage
½ cup shredded or thinly sliced carrots
¼ cup chopped or thinly sliced onions
3 cups vinegar
4 scotch bonnet peppers
3 whole cloves
½ cup freshly squeezed sour orange juice (optional)
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
6-8 peppercorns (optional)
Cut peppers into 4 small pieces. Note: The more seeds you include, the hotter the pikliz.
Place all the ingredients except the vinegar in a quart size jar.
Close jar tightly.
Let ingredients marinate between 24 to 48 hours before serving.
Refrigerate after first use.
Warning: Scotch bonnet peppers are excruciatingly hot. Avoid contact with eyes and other sensitive areas when working with these peppers.
Dinkinish O’Connor is an award-winning writer. Her food sojourns have taken her everywhere from the shanty town bistros of Kingston to the gnarly vineyards of Bordeaux. She has written for Wine Spectator, Condé Nast Traveler, The Miami Herald and other publications. Dinkinish received her sommelier certification and hosts innovative wine tastings. To see what’s happening in Dinkinish’s sumptuous, little world, check out, “Gourmet Squatter,” a blog that explores how to sip high on a low budget.