Hello again, chilli lovers, today, we’re trying some Posh Pickles & Preserves.
Another small company but, if their place at Reading Chilli Fest is anything to go by, they’re a big favourite. Their products were all over Chilli Bob’s stall alongside his Dragon’s Breath plants, to the point where I almost thought they were his own brand. Clearly at least one major name in the chilli world loves them but, this week, we’re going to find out what I think.
I have for you their Fiery Chilli Extra Jam, made with Peppadews, and a vietnamese lemongrass relish known as “Sẚ Và Tu’o’ng ó’t”. Or “Sa Va Tuong Ot”, if your device can’t read the accents.
Two very different preserves in very similar jars.
The only differences, in fact, are the colours and a printed medal on the relish – One that says that it got gold at the World Hot Sauce Awards.
Other than that, they’re bright, white labels with a purple brand name and simple pickle jar picture. Their distinct colouration coming in in a mock-torn strip around the top.
The jam is a bright, pinkish red, while the relish bares a light, golden brown, well representing the intended flavours of each. I’m looking forward to trying them but first, I want to talk about their ingredients lists.
The Sẚ Và Tu’o’ng ó’t contains:
Rapeseed oil, lemongrass, garlic, spring onion, red Thai chilli, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, salt
It’s not vegetarian but it’s certainly exciting.
The Fiery Chilli Extra Jam, however, is a tad worrying:
Red chilli, pepperdew, onion, garlic, honey, balsamic, orange juice, lemon juice, vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, tomato puree, sugar, pectin
And, if you’ve read my Jam Horse review, you should be able to tell right away what’s wrong with it. It contains tomato. It uses one type of pepper to bulk out another. And it has an ingredients list which I can’t fit on one line.
That’s not an extra jam.
An extra jam is about simplicity. About highlighting the key ingredients and not cutting corners with them. And it absolutely does not use tomato if it’s a chilli one.
Of course, I don’t mind a bit of tomato and I certainly don’t mind either a bit of peppadew to sweeten my hotter chillies or a bit of hotter chilli to power up my peppadew. I don’t doubt that this ingredients list could make a great jam. All I take issue with is the labelling of it as an “extra” one when it very clearly isn’t.
I have no idea how they’ve managed to get away with that but let’s stop judging the jar now and give it a taste.
Long before it reaches my mouth, the artisan nature of this jam is already apparent. It’s absolutely laden with shredded chilli and seeds, without even a hint of vinegar on the nose. And, in fact, it looks like it might even be more pepper than jam.
Some elements of the “extra” ethos have been observed, after all.
In flavour, it is tart but in a fruity way, its main acidic flavour being its citrus blend, while its balsamic vinegar contributes more to the rich, savoury overtones. Overtones which come primarily from its peppers and form the main body of the preserve.
This is, as its texture suggests, an incredibly pepper forward jam.
Still sweet, like any other, but far more suited to cheeses, cold meats, burgers and enriching a tomato sauce than to cakes, scones and spreading over toast.
It is a chilli jam, not a jam with chillies, and its sharp yet slowly growing, low
at the bottom of my medium backs that up with aplomb.
I wouldn’t say that this “Fiery Extra Chilli Jam” is as distinctive as the peppadew chillies that it uses but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. It may be on the less exciting end of Posh Pickles & Preserves’ range but it’s a darn good example of chilli jam done right. Even if it got the “Extra” part wrong.
If you’re looking for a solid pepper jam or burger relish, this one will serve you well. But what about our other item?
Sẚ Và Tu’o’ng ó’t – Pronounced with long As, the “ot” from “hot” and a U that sounds like a W, according to its makers – is a rather less common creation. Many chilli companies put out a jam but few work with lemongrass and even fewer with vietnamese cuisine, so I’m eager to try the fruit of their travels. Especially as it is, apparently, their most popular product.
The relish comes from the jar as a dark, richly-coloured, orange paste, with chunks of both red chilli and spring onion green adding an endearing contrast. And, alongside these is a covering of red oil, further hinting at the heat and chilli flavour within.
Its aroma is rich and savoury, with a spiced, not quite woody element that I cannot place until I taste it. The scent of lightly caramelised lemongrass, cooked to the point where it is only just capable of retaining a slight wood-grain texture and none of the accompanying flavour.
Because, while there is a definite earthy, lemon-like quality all throughout this vietnamese-inspired pickle, it is neither floral nor woody. The presence of lemongrass is impossible to miss but everything that cooks off as its texture breaks down has done so and we are getting only its best features.
Features that pair wonderfully with the additional richness of garlic, rooty ginger and dry asian chillies but that are equally well offset by the spring onions’ touch of green and planty. Just as the sweetness from this pickle’s sugar is offset by a subtle hint of fish sauce to turn its finish wholly savoury.
As with their jam, the pair who run Posh Pickles & Preserves have done a fantastic job at balancing the Sẚ Và Tu’o’ng ó’t’s bold and intense flavours and, as with that jam, it’s going to go wonderfully over cheeses and cold meats.
But, unlike their jam, it’ll also marinade chicken, liven up a stir fry and/or sit on the side of your curry. Heck, it’ll even go into the curry. Especially if it’s vietnamese or thai-styled already.
And, at a slightly higher, yet rather more throaty
it’s still highly usable.
I’ve enjoyed both of today’s products a lot but this Sẚ Và Tu’o’ng ó’t is by far the more unique and versatile of the two. I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone with even the slightest interest in flavours from the orient.