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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
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
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
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
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
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.
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