Not familiar with Haiti’s all-purpose condiment? This is your fair warning – you’re going to want to throw it on everything.

What Is It?

Pikliz is a beautiful thing. An unapologetically spicy-sweet condiment, it’s present at every Haitian table for almost every meal, where its crunchy astringency cuts through heavy meat dishes and fried foods common in the country’s cuisine. Although it looks and sounds like it’s “pickled,” it’s not the heated sort; it’s simply a marinated vinegar slaw in a jar that you chill for a couple days and then enjoy. Word to the wise: Pikliz packs too powerful a punch to eat on its own as a side. It works its magic best when scooped up with bites of everything else on your plate.

What Do I Do With It?

It’s hard to resist the addictive crunch-pop of pikliz. Chances are, you’ll want to use it on everything – and I wholeheartedly encourage that. Eat it with any meat, poultry or fish; mix it with rice or beans; and drizzle the liquid into soups, stews and chili. Elevate your eggs with it, or add a little to your next sandwich or wrap for some extra-special zing.

Although fresh pikliz can be found in Haitian communities stateside – in Brooklyn or southern Florida, for example – it’s nearly impossible to find in the Midwest. If you want to experience it (and take it from me, you do), you’ll need to make your own – a simple task if ever there was one. Traditional Haitian pikliz often contains sour orange juice, and January is a great time to look for sour oranges at the nearest international grocery store. If you can’t find them, though, lime juice is a respectable and oft-used substitute.

Pikliz

Don’t shovel this in like slaw, lest your mouth catch on fire. This is a condiment, meant to act like one rather than fly solo. I think pikliz works best when the veg is cut paper-thin, so if you have a mandoline, use it for the cabbage, onion and bell pepper.

Yields | 32 ounces |

  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage, thick core removed
  • 1½ cups thinly sliced sweet yellow onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup thin matchstick carrots
  • 3 to 4 scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2½ cups distilled white vinegar
  • ¹⁄₃ cup lime juice (from 2 to 3 limes)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

| Preparation | In a large bowl, add cabbage, onion, bell pepper, carrots, scotch bonnet or habanero peppers and cloves. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, lime juice and salt; pour over vegetables and toss with tongs until thoroughly combined. Use tongs to transfer vegetables to a 32-oz widemouthed glass canning jar, packing them in as you go. Pour vinegar mixture over top to cover. Seal tightly and allow to marinate in refrigerator, 48 hours.

| To Serve | Serve alongside meat, poultry, fish or vegetables as you would a relish or chutney.

Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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