“Sweet and sour is a typically Venetian flavor. Fish, vegetables, meats, game, and even fruits are done this way.” Francesco’s taste for sweet-and-sour is truly Venetian. The preservative properties of both sugar and acid have long been recognized. In Venice the two are combined, often in a savory mix of onions, pine nuts, and raisins glazed with vinegar, a preparation called “in saor.” Adam Tihany has always been intrigued by the taste of sweet-and-sour dishes in both Venetian and Chinese cooking. He likes to think of it as a legacy of Marco Polo, the quintessential culinary manifestation of the meeting of the two cultures. At Remi, Francesco’s staff prepares tender, well-glazed sweet and sour shallots each day to use as garnishes, not only for salads but also for fish, meats, and vegetables, to add a mellow yet piquant suggestion of ‘in saor’ to many dishes.
Sweet and Sour Shallots
- 24 shallots peeled
- 2 cups (375 ml) vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 6 teaspoons (90 ml) red wine vinegar
- Place the shallots in saucepan, add the stock, and simmer gently 25 to 30 minutes, until the shallots are tender. Much of the stock will evaporate.
- Heat the oil in a skillet and stir in the sugar.
- Add the shallots along with any remaining stock and cook over medium heat until the shallots become brown and glazed.
- Stir in the vinegar and cook a few minutes longer, so the shallots are just coated with a syrupy sweet and sour sauce.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.