Haitian Pikliz: Taste of the Caribbean
I made a BIG mistake when I tried my first taste of pikliz. It was lunchtime at La Sirene, the stylish restaurant set within the equally elegant Marriott Port-au-Prince. A steaming hot plate of kibi had just been set before me. Accompanying it, a piquant mash of moist veggies. It looked a lot like coleslaw to me, only minus the mayo, which always counts as a good thing to me.
The waiter lunged at me, alarm in his eyes, but, it was too late. I had already heaped a more than healthy helping of pikliz in my mouth… and my mouth was absolutely…
Yeah, pikliz may look harmless, but it’s plenty potent in the heat department. Pickled cabbage, carrots and some combination of bell peppers, onions, scallions, and fiery Scotch Bonnet peppers come together to make this super-spicy and uniquely Haitian condiment.
- 2 cups thinly sliced white cabbage
- 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 cup grated carrots
- 1 cup seeded and thinly sliced green, red or yellow bell pepper
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup of white vinegar
- 1 ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2-4 Scotch Bonnet Peppers sliced or chopped (seeds included)
Like pepper sauce across much of the English-speaking Caribbean, pikliz is served with just about everything in Haiti. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner; chicken, meat, seafood, or veggies – pikliz pairs nicely with it all.
Here’s how you can make a batch of your own…
First, place your cabbage, onion, carrots, bell peppers, and scallions in a large bowl and toss thoroughly. Second, combine white vinegar, lime juice, hot peppers, salt, and black pepper in a large jar with a tight-fitting lid. Third, add your veggies into the liquid-filled jar, ensuring to pack them down tightly so that they’re all submerged. Lastly, close the lid tightly and let your pikliz sit anywhere from a few hours to several days.
Note: the longer you leave it, the spicier it will get!!
Store your pikliz covered in your refrigerator and enjoy a spicy taste of Haiti on all your meals! A batch like this should keep about three weeks.
Also, you might want to label your container to ensure no one makes the same silly mistake I did.