Monday, November 29, 2010

Elemental Efficiency: Liquid Nitrogen

At Super Bowl MCVDLVI, the final minutes of the game come to a close. The winning team bends the cap on their fresh championship hats and the coach starts to cry. In celebratory form, the defensive linemen go to pour Gatorade over coach. Due to the heat of the moment, they accidentally choose the wrong keg and the whole crowd freezes (not to mimic) as the coach, actually frozen, starts to fall apart. His tear is the first to fall and it breaks into these beautiful fragments.

Inside the wrong keg was liquid nitrogen. There is a lot of appeal, intimidation, curiosity and danger involved. However, it has become a more common ingredient in restaurants, bars and catering.
This week, when Raquel flew into town we immediately bought a 5 gallon keg from Gala Gas Co on 24th & NW 1st Ave in Miami at a reasonable price. I must say, intimidation settled quickly once we got into the groove of things. Nothing was previously prepared (which would've been a smart time) so we experimented with what was around. Here's a quick picture show of some of the try outs.
Liquid Nitrogen
Broken Raspberries
Ham Chips
Scrambled Egg Ice Cream Ingredients
Ice Cream Preparation

Creations included:
Ranch Potato Chip Curry Ice Cream (would've been better with regular Lay's, only had ranch)

Butternut Squash Soup Dome (a la: Sweet Corn Soup, Coconut, Charred Husk [amongst other examples])

Scrambled Egg Ice Cream with Bacon (the best ice cream of the day)

Mozzarella Ice Cream (didn't really work. I want to make it work though, will try other methods in the future)

Apple Chips (delicious, dissolves to be very fresh tasting)

Banana Curry Ice Cream ( also with nutmeg; good flavors, needed more sugar)

Ham Chips (a novel idea, but nothing spectacular; maybe with better ham)

Green Tea Ice Cream (made from Gunpowder Green Tea, rather than matcha)

The reason why we did mostly ice creams is because, surprisingly enough, it was the quickest thing to make!
The quicker ice cream freezes, the smaller the ice crystals will be, resulting in a smoother ice cream. Liquid nitrogen freezes so quickly that ice cream is literally formed in less than a minute. Making it great for presentation. Table side dessert, best demonstrated here, as a bootleg video from Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant in the UK.

I love the nitrogen's endless possibilities and the role it can play in surprising and delighting the palette. I will definitely be using it again. I was definitely nervous as the first time using this stuff. But if you generally treat it the same you do with hot oil or boiling water (ie: DO NOT PUT YOUR HAND IN THERE) then you will be just fine. I would still read the Liquid Nitrogen Primer listed below as an overview and safety guide before purchasing.

Read First

Where to Buy

Gala Gas Co
121 Northwest 24th Street
Miami, FL 33127-4413
(305) 573-1388
{Don't be afraid to ask questions!}

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Smoked Almond-Chicken Breast
Beef Tendon
Watermelon Rind Kimchee
Fish sauce Caramel

-Marinated the breast in a smoked almond & buttermilk brine, steamed it, sliced it thin.
-Braised beef tendon in broth and spices, semi-froze, sliced paper thin
-Marinated watermelon rind in salt, sugar, chilies & fish sauce for 2 weeks (so far...)
-Equal parts fish sauce and sugar, reduced and cooled to a loose caramel.
-A few dots of yuzu over the top.

I really enjoy how the beef tendon looks almost like pancetta draped over the chicken breast, which, after a 3 day brine, infused a great deal of smoked almond in the breast without losing the essential chicken flavor. The rind kimchee I can't get enough of, I always reach in the fridge and snack on them, tasting the transformation of a Korean-inspired southern s(e)oul food time lapse. The caramel needs some work, but I know I want to go somewhere in the direction of "Umami caramel". This was not only an experiment, but an improvisation. I didn't harbor over notes, jots and doodles for weeks, doubting myself and then reassuring. I just had an open fridge and an open mind which will, hopefully, lead to an open heart {purgarey}

Make it your motto day and night.
Experiment and it will lead you to the light.
The apple on the top of the tree is never too high to achieve,
So take an example from Eve, experiment.
Be curious, though interfering friends may frown,
Get furious at each attempt to hold you down.
If this advice you always employ, the future can offer you infinite joy
And merriment.
Experiment and you'll see.
-Cole Porter

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not Milk?

After observing a freshly strained Thom Kha Gai broth, you wonder what whimsical interpretations could be made between a bowl of broth vs a bowl of milk. Could cereal be the next soup? That film of fat that forms atop a pot of warm milk, could that be recreated with something else? Another fat, perhaps. What's going to be hiding underneath?