I heard once that you can tell someone’s commitment to veganism by their collection of oils and vinegars. I’m not sure how true that is, but I do love a vinaigrette and Good Seasons carafes have taught me that it’s very easy to experiment with vinaigrettes to get extra flavors, whether you use a Good Seasons “Italian Dressing” packet or not. I appreciate Good Seasons as a simple brand that isn’t afraid to let you explore. Just in exploring the vinaigrette possibility space I have been collecting a wide variety of oils and vinegars.
One of my recurring experiments has been with a “Pub” Vinaigrette. The basic idea was that I sometimes love a splash of Malt Vinegar on a fish and chips meal like many do, and I was trying to figure out what sorts of vinaigrette you could make with it. I was especially trying to tap into something with the spirit of “this is a salad dressing you might find to partner with fish and chips as one big pub meal”. I think of it the house dressing of a weird pub trying to source a vinaigrette mostly from ingredients at hand or at least “close to home”. Of course, Malt Vinegar has a very strong flavor profile so finding the other elements to pair with it was tough and took some play/experimentation.
I didn’t think Olive Oil was right to pair with Malt Vinegar, and you would be wasting good olive oil taste in the way it would disagree with the Malt Vinegar I felt.
You could use a boring Vegetable or Canola oil, and that might be appropriate given the boring oils typically used for frying fish and chips. I nearly stopped at that almost fine solution.
The discovery that really cracked the experimental project wide open for me was Avocado Oil. Avocado Oil has a rich and nutty flavor, not entirely what you would expect thinking about guacamole, but a flavor to its own. It’s a strong flavor that doesn’t get rolled over by Malt Vinegar like Vegetable Oil would, nor do I think it clashes quite like Olive Oil would. I think it adds a “chips” feel, almost the bite of a nuttier potato, when paired with the malt vinegar.
The big variable in my experiments so far have been been the amount of mustard that I’ve added. I think this “Pub” Vinaigrette works well unseasoned without mustard. I think a hint of mustard makes it more interesting. I’ve been working up to seeing how much mustard I can add. Because I love strong mustard, I want more mustard salad dressing options that aren’t a cream or dijon (honey mustard or not). I associate Colman’s Mustard with fish and chips night at a pub sometimes too, from some appetizers that come to mind, and keep wondering how much I can dial up “Pub” Vinaigrette towards that goal. So far I’ve not been disappointed with my experiments. In my most recent attempt I used almost a third or more of a entire shaker of ground mustard, believe this may definitely be a dressing where the more mustard the merrier. With that much ground mustard mixed it turned out almost lighter than the color of orange juice (despite how dark the vinegar and oil both are), and when the dressing separated between uses (and reshakes) it made a lovely “sunrise”.
The one variable that remains on my idea board is that though I dismissed Olive Oil as the base oil in theory I like the concept of using a splash or more of olive brine (possibly in place of some of the water content?), which occurred to me as an interesting nod to a Dirty Martini. I’ve not actually tried this yet, though.