5@5 - Molecular gastronomy at home
October 21st, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Molecular gastronomy: It's a term that’s been bandied around since the late 1980s that more or less describes the intersection of science and cuisine.

From sea urchin foams to spherified olives, some of the best restaurants in the world - like Alinea in Chicago, the now closed elBulli in Spain and wd~50 in New York - have become famous and lauded for challenging diners with their delicious experiments and overall definition of what food can be.

So if you feel like embracing your own inner Bill Nye while donning an apron, Chef Josh Hebert of POSH Improvisational Cuisine in Scottsdale, Arizona, has got you covered.

Gird your centrifuges - things are about to get molecular.

Five Molecular Things You Can Do at Home: Josh Hebert

Note: Keep in mind molecular is all percentages by weight so there is some mathematics involved. Hebert recommends purchasing a molecular starter kit so you can do all these cool tricks at home.

1. Deconstruct and reconstruct an olive into olive spheres
You’ll need:
Puréed olives to make 400 grams olive juice
2.5 grams calcium chloride (0.625%)
1.5 grams xanthan (0.375%)
1 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs thyme
1 each, orange or lemon peel zest
4 peppercorns

Setting bath: 7.5 grams sodium alginate (0.5%), 1.5 liter of water

Procedure: Mix sodium alginate and water. Keep in the refrigerator over night to allow bubbles to escape.

Prepare olive juice by filtering puréed olives through a strainer cloth. Mix with calcium chloride. Sprinkle xanthan gum and mix with a hand-held mixer (not an immersion blender) until desired consistency. Gently heat olive oil with garlic, thyme, citrus peel and pepper. Cool and store in a tight container.

With a small spoon, transfer the thickened olive juice to the sodium alginate bath for setting. Shape using a slotted spoon or strainer from the molecular kit. Rinse with water, let drip and transfer to aromatized olive oil.

2. Cucumber caviar
You’ll need:
454 grams cucumber puréed and strained into juice, (approximately 400 grams liquid)
2 to 3 grams sodium alginate
4 grams salt
1 pint .05% calcium chloride solution

Procedure: Purée cucumber in a blender on high-speed, add sodium alginate and continue purée until fully incorporated. Allow to rest 1 hour until no bubbles. Using a medicine dropper drop liquid into sodium alginate. Remove with a strainer, rinse well in cold water and set aside.

3. Vegan cheese with coconut milk
You’ll need:
1 can high-quality coconut milk
2 grams coconut vinegar
6 grams sugar
4 grams salt
6 grams agar-agar

Procedure: Stir all ingredients in a sauce pan with a whisk until dissolved. Bring up heat slowly, allowing it to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into shallow container. Allow the mixture to set. Once set purée in a food processor and set aside for 24 hours. The coconut milk mixture should begin to weep from vinegar and begin to look like ricotta cheese.

4. Quick and easy citrus foam sauce
You’ll need:
375 milliliters orange juice
25 grams sugar
375 milliliters heavy cream
1/2 lemon, juiced
2.5 grams or 1 1/2 sheets (.42%) gelatin

Procedure: Combine orange juice and sugar, reducing over medium heat to about half. Add the lemon juice. Bloom gelatin in cold water until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Squeeze gently to remove excess water and add to warm juice reduction. Add juice to heavy cream and strain. Fill a whipped cream charger to 0.5 liters and charge 1 to 2 times with nitrous oxide. Shake and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours before using.

5. 'Ghetto' sous vide
You’ll need:
1 Coleman cooler, any size preferably smaller
Gallon-sized plastic Ziploc bag
Duct tape
8 12-oz. NY Strip steaks, or a preferred protein
Pot of water brought up to a boil
Instant read thermometer

Procedure: Place 4 steaks (or protein of choice) in each bag with whichever seasonings you would like. Place on a flat surface to get all of the air out. Seal the bag. Add remaining steaks to second bag, seal same way.

Wrap with 2 bands of duct tape around each bag. Place at the bottom of the cooler.

Bring a pot of water to a simmer, turn off heat, whisking a few times. Pour contents over top of steak/protein in the cooler.

Leave the cooler door open, checking the temperature every 5 minutes. When temperature has dropped (128 degrees for medium-rare) close cooler and allow to sit for 4 hours. After 4 hours, remove steaks from the cooler. Pat dry, season with salt and pepper or any desired seasoning. Sear on both sides until crispy, remove from heat and serve.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Bite • Cuisines • Molecular Gastronomy • Think

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Alex

    whats the difference between coconut vinegar and regular vinegar? or is it just a theme for it.

    July 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm |
  2. read review

    Definitely imagine that which you stated. Your favourite reason appeared to be on the net the simplest thing to keep in mind of. I say to you, I definitely get irked while people think about worries that they plainly don't recognize about. You controlled to hit the nail upon the top and outlined out the entire thing without having side-effects , other folks could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

    January 24, 2013 at 2:43 am |
  3. M

    I can't believe they would post a "sous vide" recipe up here. If not done right, botulism is a definite risk.

    October 24, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • chef

      that is not technically sous vide it is low temperature cooking which is way different then sous vide and not as dangerous and also the sear at the end serves to kill of the germs that may have formed

      October 26, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  4. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Science... a four letter word for conservatives... because they are idiots in science, math, and reading...

    October 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • Limbaugh is a liberal

      And for that matter, everything else as well

      October 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • RDNinja

      That's just SOOOO clever of you to use an article about food as a platform for your political rant. I was about to recommend a laxative to do something about that grumpiness, but by looking at your post, it seems you've already evacuated your bowels.

      October 21, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Silvia

      Well way to be stereotypical. I consider myself a conservative yet I love science. In fact that was the subject I excelled at the most in school. In fact, in my mind there are certain instances where I believe science trumps religion. I'm personally not a big fan of Adam and Eve. However, you probably didn't think there was anybody like me out there when you made your ignorant posting.

      October 21, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Evanimbecles

      Yep conservatives are faith based and there is no room for science or proven facts in their narrow world.

      October 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  5. mico

    Too much Mickey Mouse. I thought it was improvisational. Who's got agar-agar, xanthan or 05% calcium chloride solution in the kitchen. How about Eggs, potatoes, salt, sugar, etc as ingredients.

    October 21, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  6. Mole Cular

    Without photos the article is only a half-piece.

    October 21, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • mseikeh

      You are so perfectly right my George. You'd understand only if you were sitting beside the autor while doing the things.

      October 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
      • snot real food

        Hey Buddy, But you'd never understand no matter how many times it was repeated in front of you.

        October 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  7. Truth

    (and I really mean that)

    October 21, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
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