My first experience with hydrocolloids…


Molecular gastronomy is a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the past few years, especially if you read about food. Pioneer chefs like Ferran Adria of the world renowned El Bulli or Grant Achatz of Alinea are masters of their trades but will be the first to tell you that foams, encapsulations, meat/vegetable glues or any of the other weapons in the arsenal of the modern kitchen chemist are no substitute for straight-up good-ass cooking and knowledge of your ingredients. Be that as it may, there are a lot of fun things to do that can make a lasting impression on your guests! in this case i had read about a concoction that uses a 2 part alginate solution that when brought together forms a type of “fruit glue”.. the trick is that you vacuum seal pieces of fruit in a calcified liquid, and then when you apply the alginate powder, in the presence of calcium it will form a soft gel. We then vacuum seal these stacks of fruit together for a few hours and when they’re nicely sliced can achieve gorgeous results, as seen in the photo above. :-) This particular combo was kiwi, pineapple, honeydew and strawberry. I then coated them in melted white chocolate mixed with ground vanilla beans and put them in the fridge to harden.
For the second part of the dish i put some plain yogurt in a mason jar in the pressure cooker and started to carmelize it which is a process in itself, producing a darkier almost nutty tasting result to be later whipped with fresh cold vanilla yogurt. but in the meantime prepared a second alginate experiment…
As said before when sodium alginate comes in contact with calcium it forms a soft gel. but if you mix it with something in small amounts and drop it into a calcium bath properly you can achieve a thin skin around the droplet, in effect making tiny capsules that in proper size can resemble faux caviar. so thats just waht i did-added alginate to a blackberry juice and then used a syringe to drop them into a calcium bath. heres a closeup of the result:

So once we took care of those, held them in the fridge for a short time and sliced our chocolate dipped fruit in half lengthwive with a hot knife to avoid cracking the delicate shell(which i did anyway, FML). Then paired with a dabble of our yogurt, the “blackberry roe” and a sprig of my moms lemon balm a gorgeously plated summer dessert was born :-)

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~ by Chest Rockaway on July 8, 2009.

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