It is fairly easy to make but you need to start a day ahead to ferment the fruit. If you slice the rhubarb fairly thinly & then use a lacto-fermentation technique it only takes 24 hours. Without the whey (just using salt) it takes about 3 days. Fermented rhubarb is also delicious with fatty meats such as pork or duck.
You can buy whey to use in fermentation or if you just need a small amount you can probably find it in the yogurt pot in your fridge. Natural yogurt separates & that clear liquid that we usually stir back in is whey.
When choosing your cheese think creamy & soft. The rhubarb is tangy & salty so something which contrasts with this is perfect. The cheese will pretty much melt inside the breadcrumb coating so think about how the cheese you plan to use tastes when melted. I used a very creamy brie & removed a lot of the rind as that is too tangy.
Fermented Rhubarb with Deep Fried Cheese
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a starter):
2 stalks rhubarb (unless they are huge – about 30g person)
1 tsp sea or rock salt
1 tbsp whey
200g cheese (I used Brie)
2 eggs, seasoned flour & breadcrumbs for dusting
oil for deep frying
- Start fermenting the rhubarb the day before you want to eat this. Slice it – about 5-6mm thick. Put it in a glass jar & sprinkle over the salt. Add the whey, give the jar a good shake & leave it on the counter overnight. If you can shake it a few times over the 24 hour period that will make sure all the fruit is fermenting equally. (NB: For those who do not want to use whey the fermentation process takes longer. Start 3 days before & follow the same process just leave out the whey. Put the jar in the fridge after 24 hours)
- To prepare the cheese, chop it into chunks at least 1 inch square. If they are too small the cheese melts completely so go larger rather than smaller.
- At least an hour before serving you need to apply a first coating of breadcrumbs. Whisk the eggs & get the seasoned flour & breadcrumbs into bowls. Also prepare something – either a lined baking tray or box to store the cheese in the fridge or freezer.
- Coat the pieces of cheese in flour then eggs & then breadcrumbs. They then need chilling for at least another hour in the fridge before frying.
- When ready to serve, heat the oil to 180 degrees. While that is heating apply a second breadcrumb coating to the cheese.
- Fry the pieces until golden brown & crunchy. This takes about 3-5 minutes.
- Drain the liquid from the fermented rhubarb & serve straight away with the hot cheese.by Sally