In a few years we won’t need all these old fashioned recipes, cook books, we won’t even need pots and pans. Why? Because molecular cooking has gained such huge notoriety in the past couple of years, more and more people taking a look at what it’s all about! It is a modern style of cooking used by gourmet chefs in many of the world finest restaurants and on cruise ships. It takes advantage of many technical innovations, and is actually a combination of cooking and science. Here’s 10 interesting facts about molecular gastronomy before trying it.
1. Nicholas Kurti
The term ‘molecular gastronomy’ was invented by Nicholas Kurti in 1988. He was a Hungarian-born nuclear physicist who helped develop the first atomic bomb. Cooking always was his hobby. So he tried to explore the processes of cooking from a scientific point of view and apply scientific knowledge to culinary problems.
2. Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas
Actually there are two people who were responsible for the ‘creation’ of molecular gastronomy – Nicholas Kurti and Elizabeth Cawdry Thomas. Elizabeth was a professional chef and married to a physicist, this heated up her interest to the scientific approach to the cooking process. She organized the first seminars about molecular gastronomy and tried to popularize it in every possible way.
3. Fat Duck restaurant
Heston Blumental promotes the idea that anyone spending time in the kitchen should have a scientific understanding of cooking. He is a world-renowned chef and one of the most influential pioneers of experimental cooking. He is also was one of the first restaurateurs who started to serve molecular dishes at his Fat Duck restaurant.
4. Cooking process from a scientific point of view
The main aim of the molecular gastronomy experts is to offer an explanation of simple cooking processes from a scientific point of view. For instance, ‘cooking the perfect egg’ is a classic question of molecular gastronomy – How does temperature affect the yolk and white?… and … What makes a soufflé rise? etc.
5. Chemical reactions
Liquid nitrogen, vacuum, inert gases and oxygen, high temperatures and other chemical reactions are widely used in molecular gastronomy.
6. Pure taste
The main achievement of molecular gastronomy is a unique and pure taste for all of the dishes prepared using these techniques. For instance, one of Fat Duck’s signature dishes is “perfect ice cream”. It contains no fats and carries only pure concentrated taste and aroma. One ball of this green tea-lime ice cream is put on a spoon and treated with liquid nitrogen. It is also sprinkled with incredibly tasty lime essence. Yum!
7. Foam (espuma dishes)
The use of foam in cuisine has been used in many forms over the history of cooking. Foam dishes, also called espuma, became the hallmark of molecular restaurants. Molecular gastronomy chefs can turn any product (meat, fruits, nuts etc.) into foam. As a result of complex chemical processes such dishes get their pure taste and do not have excess fats.
Heston Blumental once said: ‘We can get too hung up on gadgetry. Once there was just the knife if you wanted to chop things. Then along came the food-processor. But that was still cooking. Now I use other tools – centrifuges, desiccators – which you might not associate with the kitchen. But that’s cooking too.’
Sous-vide is French for “under vacuum”. The essence of this interesting cooking method is – the products are put in an airtight plastic bag and cooked in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment (up to 60 degrees) for a long time (sometimes even for more than 72 hours). Thanks to such ‘marinating’, products have just a marvelous and perfect taste. Meat becomes very juicy and soft, and fruits become more thick-skinned, but still have rich flavor.
Centrifugation is widely used by the dairy industry to separate milk from butter fat. An example of using the centrifugation process in molecular gastronomy: let take simple tomato juice. It will be divided into three different substances that can be used for cooking several different dishes and all these dishes will have marvelous and unique taste.