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!}

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