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lizziee

MICRI

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Under Spain, Marc Cosnard des Closets mentioned an article that he had wriiten about MICRI, the miracle sauce base that Chef Romera is using at his restaurant, L'Esguard. The article is in the magazine "Great Chefs Magazine", and it is now out on the stands. (It is definitely worth buying.)

Jinymo asked "I thought I'd mention that my Google search for MICRI turned up nought. Should anyone have more information about this product, please post in Cooking or General. I am very very interested in the tremendous possibilities."

I found it at http://www.solegraells.com/

Now, I have a problem. I don't read a word of Spanish and I would love to order MICRI and try it out. Where is MICRI listed? In what proportions should it be used as a replacement for butter and eggs? Is there anything else that looks interesting to order? How do you actually order anything?

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Schielke,

This is a copy of Marc's post:

Here is an article to be published in the upcoming issue of Great Chefs magazine.

MICRI - THE MIRACLE SAUCE BASE Marc Cosnard des Closets 2002

The sunny Costa Brava in Spain is best known for its beaches and tapas bars. Lunch is served at 2 pm and is followed by a siesta before returning to work and dining again at 10 pm. This leisurely pace is why millions of tourists flock to Barcelona and the surrounding area. A visit to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral in the Catalan capital, a bullfight, a plate of smoked ham and marinated anchovies with a glass of hearty red wine are among the main attractions. Few go there to find the perfect ingredient for making sauces. Who could imagine that this area is a veritable laboratory of culinary innovation? In the past ten years celebrated chefs and food scientists have been churning out new ways to prepare and serve food. Foam desserts and multi-layered shot glasses of sweet and savory reductions are served in fine dining establishments around the world. These are just a few of the marvels developed by Catalan chefs in their laboratories.

Making a sauce can take hours of work and often requires many hard-to-get ingredients just to distill the essence of a particular product. Most sauce bases are made from animal products such as bone gelatin obtained after long hours of cooking. They need to be flavored with various ingredients, fat must be skimmed off and the sauce must be strained again and again before emulsifying with starches or butter to give it a smooth texture. This whole process results in high saturated fat content and reduced vitamins and proteins. The final sauce base is perishable, has one flavor and one color, usually brown. Professional chefs prepare different sauce bases every day: poultry stock, fish stocks, beef stocks, veal stocks, vegetable stocks etc. Restaurant kitchens have lots of room, many hands and a variety of ingredients to make this possible. At home it is a different story, you usually have to prepare your sauce base the day before you are going to use it and spend hours toiling at the stovetop to reduce your sauce to the right quantity and consistency. Then you store the extra sauce base in your freezer until you use it again or, as is usually the case, throw it out a few weeks later.

Now there is an alternative. Chef Miguel Sanchez Romera of Restaurant l’Esguard in San Andres de Llavaneres (Sant Andreu de Llavaneres in Catalan) just 1 hour north of Barcelona, Spain, spent five years developing a neutral sauce base that will revolutionize sauce making. Chef Romera studied fine arts as a youth until he entered the medical field. He is a noted neurologist specialized in epilepsy. He began his culinary career at age 45 and opened his restaurant in a former winery. Today he works in a hospital from Monday to Wednesday and helms the stove the rest of the week.

His quest for a perfect sauce base that would be healthy, easy to use and able to support different flavors and ingredients resulted in MICRI, a gel derived from Cassava, a starchy root vegetable also known as yucca or manioc. It is originally from South America and was introduced into Africa by Portuguese sailors. Cassava has a very high vitamin C content and must be cooked before being eaten otherwise it is toxic. The formula is secret but MICRI is being sold in Europe by Spanish company Solé Graells (sole@solegraells.com) at a cost of approximately $15 for a 3-pound container.

MICRI is odorless, colorless, tasteless and fat-free. It can be used hot or cold as a sauce base or emulsifier. The semi-hard elastic gel texture can be adjusted by adding water and hand whipping or machine blending. It must be stored between 32° and 47° Fahrenheit and stays fresh 3 weeks after opening. Gelatin has two textures: hard and crumbly whereas a MICRI sauce has a smooth texture. Its chameleon-like ability to retain color and flavor without cooking is unique. A lemon sauce tastes like lemon, rather than lemon and cream or lemon and butter. A Béarnaise can be made with shallots, tarragon, white wine, vinegar and MICRI substituted for the butter and egg yolks. Anyone who has made this sauce knows how fragile it is and how frustrating it can be to serve a beautiful piece of meat and put a broken sauce on the table.

Chef Romera’s cuisine is as colorful as it is flavorful. MICRI allows him to offer a variety of taste sensations and visual surprises in each dish. His Venison with Sobresada Tatin, spice sauces and currant sauce is an example of this. Spicy sausage filling, called Sobresada in Spain, is placed on sliced and sugared apples in a mold and cooked for about 18 minutes until the sausage is cooked and the apples have caramelized. Venison loin is seasoned, pan seared in pork lard and served with the Sobresada Tatin, currant sauce and 48 dollops of flavored MICRI. Chopped herbs, spices or blanched and pureed vegetables are mixed with MICRI to preserve their fundamental essence and color. Each bite of venison and Sobresada Tatin varies with the chosen sauce.

Like many doctors Chef Romera is modest about his accomplishments. Like many chefs Dr. Romera lets his food speak for itself. He has earned one star in the Michelin guide and his notoriety is growing beyond Spain.  A meal at l’Esguard is a pleasure for the palate and a salve for the soul.

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I don't know if MICRI found its way into our meal at l'Esguard in June, but this is from our notes on that meal.

Pichon  en Crochet, Glaseado de Trufa Negra y Jugo de Pimientos Escalivados

Boned pidgeon breast with streaks of three sauces--black truffles, red peppers and a parsley coulis with garnish of some trimmed bean sprouts. The "Glaseado" was a clear sauce with a texture of glycerine or clear jelly with a suspension of finely minced truffles and another of peppers. I found it lacked the rich depth of flavor I would expect from a sauce with a pigeon.

I would have preferred a stock based sauce and I thought this was not the strongest dish, but still very good and the overall meal was easily worth a star.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I'm waiting for Steve Klc to discover this post. He will let us know what to order and how to do it. Now, where are you, Steve?

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Hi, sorry Lizziee and everyone. Marc graciously offerred months ago to help get me a sample of this stuff and I never followed up. I'd PM him and see if he could recommend a contact or share an item number. The e-mail I have for the company in Barcelona is solegra@intercom.es which I am taking off a container of powdered agar agar and the phone numbers are 93 423 51 31 and 93 424 40 13 and the fax is 93 426 15 12.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I'm waiting for Steve Klc to discover this post. He will let us know what to order and how to do it.  Now, where are you, Steve?

Steve is back!!!!!!

I know answers will be forthcoming.

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I do speak Spanish and after looking all over Sole Graells' site could not find a reference to MICRI. There is, however, a lot of stuff. After clicking on the first screen a menu will appear. Click on "Tienda Virtual" (Virtual Store) and then on "Area de Compras" (Purchase Area) at the bottom right of the next screen. The next screen will have a list of product categories: "Cacao y Derivados . . . Gelificantes -gellifiers? . . . Estabilizantes--stabilizers . . . gelatinas--gels" and many others. Click on any category and you'll see the individual products. There is a search function ("búsqueda") but yielded nada when searching for MICRI. I searched elsewhere and could not find anything on MICRI.

Hey, are we certain this product exists?? :wink::wacko:

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Miguel,

Thank you for the tips and I couldn't find MICRI either. Yes, it does exist.

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If the information in the article by Marc Cosnard des Closets is correct

His quest for a perfect sauce base that would be healthy, easy to use and able to support different flavors and ingredients resulted in MICRI, a gel derived from Cassava, a starchy root vegetable also known as yucca or manioc. It is originally from South America and was introduced into Africa by Portuguese sailors. Cassava has a very high vitamin C content and must be cooked before being eaten otherwise it is toxic. The formula is secret but MICRI is being sold in Europe by Spanish company Solé Graells (sole@solegraells.com) at a cost of approximately $15 for a 3-pound container.

then Solé Graells is ripping people off, big-time. The starch that is derived from cassava is known as TAPIOCA. Yes, fish-eye pudding! And the "bubbles" in bubble tea. Maybe Solé Graells has formulated a version that is more easily soluble that standard tapioca flour. But that's all they're really talking about. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

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Dry tapioca keeps very well; it's possible that the MICRI stuff is moist -- after all, they refer to it as a gel. In which case it probably is quite perishable.

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So if you buzzed tapioca in a food processor or blender, then mixed it with a liquid you'd have this miracle stuff?

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Suzanne F is correct about cassava being tapioca. It should be readily available in asian markets in a variety of shapes and sizes. The powdered form is called "bot nang" (Vietnamese, I think, and if so, should probably have a few accent marks in the name. I have it, but not in the original package to check).

As with any starch, you should add the powder to cold water, then heat until thickened.

I've heard that tapioca sauces lose their thickness when cooled. I've never really checked this out.

Maybe the retention of thickness is what makes MICRI have it's magic powers. Personally, I'm sceptical.

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