Gizzi Erskine

When I started writing this book, over a year ago, the world felt like a very different place. I was already in something of a tizz about the state of the world, both agriculturally and environmentally, and was finding the mixed messaging – and the fact that no one was taking responsibility for the real cause of all this damage done to the planet – maddening. And this made me realise I had to re-evaluate how I approach my use of imported ingredients – ingredients I truly cannot live without. I needed to teach myself how to adapt. Accepting that change starts at home can be overwhelming, devastating and depressing for anyone with any joie de vivre, but it doesn’t mean that we have to live this incredibly staunch, colourless or bland life. If anything, it’s the opposite: when we look into food production and the reality of what it means to eat sustainably we are in fact offered a pretty bountiful plate. Yes, eating in a ‘restorative’ way takes consideration, forming new habits and stepping away from conveniences, but it can also be creative, fun and delicious.

Asian food is one of my favourites, but many of the ingredients I use in these dishes – particularly the fermented condiments – are imported. The Asian condiments I love all look and taste different, but they share the same foundation – one of the most uncontrollable ingredients in cookery: bacterial cultures. These cultures require regulated temperature (as opposed to heat) and time. Fermenting is about enabling these bacteria to impart life into food. Fermenting is a complex process and fermented foods vary widely based on the key ingredients, how much salt is added, what temperature the ferment is left at and for how long. Flavour notes can range from tangy to savoury umami and salty, a spectrum of taste that brings a depth and roundness that it is almost impossible to define but is addictively satisfying. I want to show you that it is possible to get into the world of fermenting and preserving in a practical and realistic way, with delicious results.

Recipes extracted
from Restore by
Gizzi Erskine,
published by
HQ. RRP $59.99