Tag Archives: gourmet

Balsamic pearls

Along the same lines as agar spaghetti, is spherification.  It’s the same process, but instead of making your liquid into a long spaghetti strand solid… you can also make it into tiny spheres.  These spheres are often referred to as caviar… or pearls.  Think high tech fruit cocktail.  Juice cantaloupe, pear, grape, etc.  Add agar agar gelatin and using a pipette (or eye dropper), suck up the liquid and drop into cold oil (to allow to keep it’s spherical shape), then rinse in water… you have a fruit caviar.

I decided to make a strawberry balsamic salad.  I put my strawberries through my juicer, added agar agar and swirled it around my plate to coat the bottom of my plate.  Separately, I heated balsamic vinegar with agar agar, and using a pipette sucked up the balsamic and dropped it into oil, making my balsamic pearls or caviar.

strawberry bals_Ssi

I served it with a sliced strawberry and tossed a salad with lemon & oil + toasted pine nuts.

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Playing in the kitchen

There’s this movement in the culinary world known as Molecular Gastronomy.  It’s old news by now.  It was started some years back by Ferran Adria of el Bulli restaurant in a small little place outside of San Sebastian, Spain.  Disciples such as Jose Andres in Washington D.C. have brought it the US and made it famous, along with Grant Achatz of Alinea in Chicago and Wylie Dufresne of wd50 in New York.  It’s hard not to go into a fine dining establishment and get some sort of science on the plate.  Many restaurants these days specialize in it.

What is ‘it’?  That’s a much larger discussion.  But in it’s simplest terms, it’s science and the understanding of food and flavors and re-inventing, uniquely presenting it, and wow’g customers with strange and wonderful new preparations.

I am an advocate and practice molecular gastronomy in all its forms.

This week I have been playing in the kitchen, and tried to master the illusive ‘agar spaghetti’.  Agar agar is a natural seaweed that is a gelatin and makes liquids into solids, not unlike Jell-O.  You make a pure liquid, strain it making sure there are no chunks in it… add agar agar, heat to 194F, then suck out the liquid via a syringe into food grade plastic tubing to make long strands.  Put the tubing in ice water to chill, then blow out with a syringe to create spaghetti.

I made two types, asparagus (boiled, pureed, strained asparagus) and spinach.

syring_Ssi

syring clos_Ss

spag_Ss

spag closi

What you end up with is pure vegetable (spinach and asparagus) in a spaghetti form.  You can serve it in any way you like… but it is packed with vegetable flavor, tastes of the essence of the spinach and asparagus, in a fun fascinating spaghetti form.  It yields that great question, ‘how did you do that?’.

scallop_spag_Ssi

I served it in a Sean Brock recipe (Heritage, S.Carolina) with sous vide scallops, tomato confit, oyster mushrooms, roasted acorn squash, truffle cream, and pumpkin seeds.  It was delicious, fun, and impressive.