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The chemistry of cooking

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Heston, you seem to be very insistent on the precision of your cooking methods, such as maintaining exactly the right temperature for ingredients and using precise cooking times.

Is this because you believe there is only one "right" method, or because you believe this precision generates more interest in your cuisine, or because the combination of precise methods enables you to create dishes that are truly innovative, and perhaps could not be created without the scientific approach you adopt ?

Or is there another reason that I've entirely missed ? :smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I want to make something very clear. Something that I have said on several occasions before. I am not for one minute suggesting that the appliance of science in the kitchen is the only way to cook, or that it superseeds classical cooking.

It does question more and although it has proved some previously set in stone cookery myhts wrong, there are many classical lores that have been around for a couple of hundred years that are unqestionable.

Ultimately nothing should detract from the fact that the end result must taste good. By taste, I do include all of the other senses (sight, smell etc).

I am precluding the whole question of what does and does not taste great and the whole perception of flavour topic. Altohugh this is the most exciting thing happening in food at the moment, it is something for a completely seperate discussion.

I certainly do not believe that there is only one way to cook something. After all tastes vary greatly. If someone likes their meat well done, is that wrong? Or what about the skin on top of a rice pudding. Some love it and others hate it. This would determine the way that the rice pudding was cooked.

What I am a firm believer in though, is the fact that when it comes to meat cookery, an oven thermometer and probe will give the cook a far better chance of attaining a desired result, time and time again. This will hopefully lead rise to increased confidence and encouragement to move on to new things.

After all ,many people would much rather cook something that they know they can do well, rahther than attempting something quite ambitious for the first time and living in fear of it going pear-shaped.

Imagine somebody serving a whole salmon, for example and rather than serve something raw, will cook the fish for longer. This will more likely result in an overcooked fish. With the use of an oven thermometer to make sure that the oven is not hotter than the set temperature and a probe, the salmon can be cooked exactly how you want it. Not to an unquestionable temperature but to a desired one.

Heston Blumenthal

The Fat Duck

The Fat Duck website

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