I have a question regarding the seafood sponge...
I came across a kilo of alginate and have only experimented minimally with it. I am amazed by the potential of this product. My problem is: there aren't too many resources regarding the use of alginate in cooking that I have been able to find. I love your use of it to create this ethereal, whipped mound of flavor...but I am curious: what ratio do you use it in? From experience I have found that a little goes a long way, but I thought it might be worth the time to ask the mad scientist himself. So far I have only used it to keep gelato from crystallizing and thicken lightly reduced sauces...but even then it was pretty much a guessing game as far as amounts. Can you lend any advice?
Actually that is a typo on Nick's part. We used gelatin to make the shellfish sponge. We use the alginates as thickening agents and as a method for encapsulation.
This seems slightly off topic but I feel your segue is the perfect opportunity to comment on something that has bothered me for some time now.
Mad scientist is not an image that I would proudly carry, and I think there is a real problem with the misconception and labeling of chefs that are executing forward thinking cuisine as being such. Science is important in cooking, and some might be able to argue that the techniques that are becoming widely known as of late seem very scientific on the surface. But I can’t say how different any of them are compared to the leavening qualities of baking powder.
We are somewhat to blame for this public perception. Simply calling our test kitchen a lab certainly doesn’t help matters, nor does the use of freeze dryers, syringes and memberships to IFT. The important thing is to understand is these things are tools and knowledge…… NOT the origin. The syringe is merely a tool, the understanding of the molecular structure of gellan gum is knowledge.
For some reason we all seem to enjoy the vision of a chef in the kitchen filled with test tubes and beakers mixing ingredients together in random fashion and impatiently awaiting the results. It happens quite the opposite. Each of these concepts are developed based on their intent. If one of us brings an idea to the table that requires the development of a new technique, the processes and ingredients must be sought out and worked on. Each step is guided by the cooks’ instinct far more than his knowledge of food on a molecular level. Food originating from science lacks a tangible comfort, it lacks sensuality, it lacks soul.
My commentary is not meant to be defensive. However, as this style of cooking becomes more popular I think the people involved in it need to take control of its image so the public perception is not false. At the core of any great meal is a great cook, regardless of the style of cuisine, not a great scientist. I want my food to be enjoyed just as Chef Keller,Trotter, and Adria want theirs to be, on every level.
Edited by chefg, 21 October 2004 - 04:16 PM.