Sour cherries are compulsory for pie, but sweet ones like Bing and Rainier do well poached, especially in the company of classic companions like port and balsamic vinegar. Pichet Ong, whose P*ong opens this fall, appreciates that traditional preparation but also likes to add an Asian twist, as he’s been known to do in the pastry kitchens of Spice Market and 66.
Pichet Ong’s Sake-Poached Cherries
2 lbs. cherries
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
1/4 cup sweet sake (Ong recommends Komekome)
1 tbsp. rice-wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. medium ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp. Maldon sea salt
Stem and pit cherries. (Ong uses a cherry pitter, but a wide, sturdy straw, like the extra-large kind you might come across at your local Starbucks, does the job. Jab and twist; the pit should come right out.) (1) Combine cherries, sugar, vanilla bean, and sake in a pot. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. (2) Add vinegar and pepper, cover pot, and refrigerate for 4 hours. When chilled, divide cherries and accumulated juices among six glasses. (3) Top each serving with 2 tablespoons of ricotta, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the cheese, and serve immediately.