Hello and welcome to another edition of Chop Talk. In this edition we are covering ‘art on a plate.’ First up is a complete explanation of Molecular Gastronomy, or The Science of Food. Many of us have heard the term, but few of us, except for you educated foodies out there, actually know the origins of the term. We’ll cover it’s history, highlight some of the great chefs who employ this science in the kitchens of their restaurants and describe the various techniques that make up this cooking method. Our Chef’s Spotlight in this edition is Chef Adrian Cruz, who exemplifies the moniker of ‘culinary artist’ with his take on art on a plate and who graciously give us a beautiful recipe and presentation for our Recipes section. Lastly we have a great announcement for all you California readers, as we have partnered with a new culinary gourmet store in Los Angeles, Van Dorn Gourmets. We hope you enjoy.
Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips: Molecular Gastronomy
Though seemingly new, molecular gastronomy has been around since the time of Escoffier and the term was first introduced into the lexicon in 1988 by Hungarian physicist Nicholas Kurti and French physical chemist Hervé This. It became the title for a set of workshops they held in Erice, Italy that brought together scientists and professional cooks for discussions on the science behind traditional cooking preparations. “Molecular Gastronomy,” first based on exploring the science behind traditional cooking methods, is also known now as the scientific discipline co-created by Kurti and This.
If you are a fan of this discipline, then you are familiar with those chefs, such as Ferran Adrià, Grant Achatz, Wylie Dufresne, Jose Andres, Thomas Keller and Heston Blumenthal, as well as a handful of others that push the limits of creativity by breaking the boundaries between the lab and the table. If you are not familiar with it, you should be, if for no other reason than to have experienced the genre at least once.
What is it exactly?
There are many branches of food science, all of which study different aspects of food such as safety, microbiology, preservation, chemistry, engineering, physics and the like. Until the advent of molecular gastronomy, there was no formal scientific discipline dedicated to studying the processes in regular cooking as done in the home or in a restaurant. The afore-mentioned (perhaps with the exception of food safety) have mostly been concerned with industrial food production and while the disciplines may overlap with each other to varying degrees, they are considered separate areas of investigation.
The discipline covers some of these areas:
~How ingredients are changed by different cooking methods.
~How all the senses play their own roles in our appreciation of food.
~The mechanisms of aroma release and the perception of taste and flavor.
~How and why we evolved our particular taste and flavor sense organs and our general food likes and dislikes.
~How cooking methods affect the eventual flavor and texture of food ingredients.
~How new cooking methods might produce improved results of texture and flavor.
~How our brains interpret the signals from all our senses to tell us the “flavor” of food.
~How our enjoyment of food is affected by other influences, our environment, our mood, how it is presented, who prepares it, etc..
Though many disparate examples of the scientific investigation of cooking exist throughout history, the creation of the discipline of Molecular Gastronomy was intended to bring together the chemical and physical processes of cooking. It broke it into an organized discipline within food science; A. To address what the other disciplines within food science do not cover and, B. Cover it in a manner intended for scientists rather than cooks.
Here’s a perfect example of new knowledge brought about by Molecular Gastronomy: A soufflé is based on a viscous preparation, for example a Bechamel sauce made of butter, flour and milk, to which is added cheese, egg yolks and whisked egg whites. It used to be thought that soufflés rose as the air bubbles in the egg whites grew bigger as they became warmer. However, Hervé This has measured the temperature and pressure inside a soufflé and calculated that the bubbles can swell by 20 per cent at the most, whereas soufflés can double in volume.
In fact, the soufflé rises as water from the milk and yolks evaporates, and rises to the top of the soufflé, pushing the layers of mixture upwards. This means that heating the container from the bottom produces the best results. He has also found that the stiffer the egg whites, the more the soufflé rises. The firmer egg whites have a greater volume to begin with, but the firmness of the foam also prevents the bubbles from passing quickly through the soufflé and escaping; slowly rising bubbles are better at pushing up the layers of mixture.
The presentations that Molecular Gastronomy represents are very much in the forefront of moving food into areas never before explored. Creations such as Blood Orange Foam, or Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s ‘Foie Gras Ganache,’ are true genius applications of time honored traditional ingredients and dishes, presented with new imagination and flair. But, it’s also about what arrives at your table as well. What do diners see? How do they interact with the food? How is their experience changed by the surrealistic plating and surprising presentation, or ingredients that look like other food, or scented air released from air pillows while you dine.
Examples of Molecular Gastronomy
Related back to my first query about flash freezing to make ice cream, El Bulli was the first restaurant to experiment with quickly freezing the outside of various foods, sometimes leaving a liquid center, using a volatile set-up involving a bowl of liquid nitrogen dubbed the TeppanNitro. Later, Alinea’s Achatz began using an appliance called the Anti-Griddle, whose metal surface freezes rather than cooks.
Also known as ravioli (not the kind you eat with marinara sauce), spheres are what you get when you mix liquid food with sodium alginate, then dunk it in a bath of calcium chloride. A sphere looks and feels like caviar, with a thin membrane that pops in your mouth, expunging a liquid center. Popular experiments from the chefs above have included ravioli made from purées of things like mangoes and peas.
One of the greatest hits of the movement has been Wylie Dufresne’s “shrimp noodles,” which, as the name states, are noodles made of shrimp meat. They were created using transglutaminase, or meat glue, as it’s known in wd-50’s kitchen, a substance that binds different proteins together and is more familiarly used in mass-produced foods like chicken nuggets.
You probably know about foams, which are sauces that have been turned into froth using a whipped cream canister and sometimes lecithin as a stabilizer. They were invented at El Bulli, along with similar “airs” made with an immersion blender.
Dusts & Dehydration
The dehydration of certain well known ingredients into a dust which changes the way one might use these ingredients, an example would be Black Chanterell or Black Trumpet mushrooms. We have had this dust added to dishes as wide ranging as soups, steaks and foie gras.
While Molecular Gastronomy may not be for you, we highly suggest that you experience this dining genre at least once. The creativity of chefs and restaurants embracing the nuances of breaking down food to the molecular level is moving food, dining and presentation to even higher levels than ever before, and frankly, we like where it is going and am excited to see who will push the boundaries of the culinary envelope even further. As the ‘dining public’ we are the beneficiaries of these talented chefs and the masterpieces and art they create on a plate. To that end, let’s move on to our Chef’s Spotlight.
Chef Adrian Cruz is an aspiring self taught chef. At a young age, he moved from Washington State to Texas with his family. His mother’s home-cooked meals inspired him to enjoy working with food and being in the kitchen. Although he learned some techniques from his mother, Adrian’s penchant for gastronomy manifested itself by the time he was 12 years old. He was able to work and train at various restaurants in the Rio Grande Valley. He’s also had the pleasure of working side by side with his brothers. Says Cruz, “I want people to know nostalgic memories and to understand the science behind my work. I want to achieve truly unique works of art on the plate and see what creations come to my mind. I love food and creating art..”
The Cruz Brothers are known locally for their natural talent and eagerness to create innovative signature dishes – their passion for food is generational and everlasting. Chef Cruz incorporates culinary traditions from around the world into his own work, adding seasonings and techniques drawn from Asia, Mexico, Europe and the Mediterranean. He infuses precise technique with creative flair and adventuresome spirit to create a cuisine, both casual comfort food and fine dining, of great finesse and balanced flavors. His reputation has given him the opportunity to host various cooking shows for local television, participate in community fundraisers and participate in culinary contests. He joined Chefs Roll in January of 2014 and has been travelling for events and competing around the Sates with Chefs Roll. He was chosen to be Chef Works Apparel International Chef of the Month in 2014 and joined Chefs Life Apparel, designing his own Latin Passion Line. Chef Cruz formed a group of chefs, called Cartel Kitchen, paired with chefs who share the same creativity love for cooking where they share ideas and cater events all over United States.
Adrian wants people to know nostalgic memories and to understand the science behind His work. He strives to achieve truly unique works of art on the plate and see what creations come to his mind. Adrian loves food and creates beautiful dishes with a lot of fusion and passion for art. Cruz went from the underdog to a noticed chef with great skills. His Latin passion comes form when he started as a kid working as a migrant in Washington state with his family. He is working on new projects for his career and maybe some day own his own restaurant. If you love his food and his art on a plate follow him on facebook and at www.chefsroll.com/chefadriancruz and www.chefslifeapparel.com
Ancho Rubbed Spicy Tuna with Pickled Ginger Oranges~Apples~Asian Pears~Honey Siracha~Wasabi Avocado~Sweet Thai Chili Sauce~Fried Nori & Bacon Bits.
Courtesy of Chef Adrian Cruz
6 oz Ahi tuna
1 tsp of Ancho chili
1 tsp soy
1 tsp of garlic
1 tsp of ginger
3 tbsp of bacon
3 slices of pickled Asian pears
3 diced apples
3 slices of fresh pickled oranges
3 sheets of fried Nori
1 tbsp of bacon fat
Season tuna in a ancho chilli rub with soy sauce, ginger, ancho, garlic, then rubbed in sesame seeds get a none stick skillet and put in medium heat till nice and hot add bacon fat and gently sear the tuna in all sides 7 seconds each side take out and set aside after that get the nori and fry till it gets crispy take out and set to to the side next get the oranges Asian pears and apples and let them sock in vinegar with honey salt ginger sugar and citrus.
Grab your honey Siracha, the Wasabi avocado, the bacon and sweet Thai chili. Add drops to your plate sprinkle the bacon bits add the pickled fruit set to the side. Now take the tuna and slice 2 inch slices add to your plate. After that add the fried Nori and sweet Thai chili. Serve.
Check it out! Ergo is proud to announce our affiliation with a new gourmet store in Los Angeles, California, Van Dorn Gourmets in Magnolia Park. They will be carrying Ergo Chef CRIMSON Cutlery, our popular Multi-Function Shears and our world famous DUO Tongs! We are pleased and excited to serve the chefs and home cooks of Los Angeles via. Van Dorn Gourmets.
Van Dorn Gourmets’ are proudly made by their own family owned and operated business dedicated to customer service, fast delivery, and of course, awesome flavor! All of their spice blends including seasoning blends, spice rubs, dip mixes, and salt blends, were developed by Brian in his own stone mortar & pestle using the finest ingredients. Brian has been blending spices, and creating unique flavor compounds for his family and friends for years and they are proud to share these wonderful blends with you. Their products also focus toward the health conscious consumer. Some of their herbs are organic, many are salt and/or sugar free, and none of their blends contain MSG.
Till next time,