Citizens! I am currently ensconced in a rather unique hotel in the small city of Ludwigshafen am Rhein in mid-Southern Germany. I’m here because on Monday I will be giving an important presentation at BASF, the world’s largest chemical company!
The hotel I am staying at is actually OWNED by BASF – and if you’re visiting Ludwigshafen am Rhein, you’re assuredly visiting BASF. Much like Armonk, NY and IBM, this is a company town – no question about it!
So, in honor of all this, I shall present my recipe for German ‘Liquid Olives’, which uses molecular gastronomy / chemistry to completely change the olive eating experience!
So, molecular gastronomy is a conflicted topic for the traditionalist who alone is TFD – I do love the unique dishes it produces, but they are science-based and extremely precise. Much like baking, which is also a tough one for me due to its precision and necessary adherence to instructions – I cook by ‘feel’, not science. However, we are on a mission today and shall persevere!
As eruditely noted on molecularrecipes.com:
Cocktails in ice spheres. Caviar made of olive oil. Disappearing transparent raviolis. Sound cool? Well these are all examples of Molecular Gastronomy. Molecular Gastronomy blends physics and chemistry to transform the tastes and textures of food. The result? New and innovative dining experiences.
The term Molecular Gastronomy is commonly used to describe a style of cuisine in which chefs explore culinary possibilities by borrowing tools from the science lab and ingredients from the food industry. Formally, the term molecular gastronomy refers to the scientific discipline that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking.
Molecular gastronomy seeks to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena.
This particular molecular gastronomy recipe is a legendary creation of super-chef Ferran Adria of the legendary and now sadly-closed ‘el bulli’ restaurant in Northern Spain. Created back in 2005, this may in fact be one of the OG (original gangsta for those in need of translation) molecular gastronomy recipes! It is also one of the easiest to make, as it doesn’t require crazy-expensive chemicals or equipment.
These spherical ‘olives’ are based on green olive juice, using a technique called ‘reverse spherification’ to make these deceptive amuse-bouche.
For those expecting Mediterranean flavors, they will be shocked not just at the burst of unexpected liquid in their mouths, but also at the equally unexpected Germanic flavors of dill, chervil, caraway and white peppercorns in my version of the recipe. Yes, this recipe is just one giant ‘psych-out’ – FYI, the recipe I based mine on is from molecularrecipes.com. These would be delicious and unique served with my similarly-flavored gravlax on an appetizer plate of renown!
To make this (as well as any other molecular gastronomy recipe), you’re going to need several items, one of which you should have regardless for use in ‘regular’ cooking. I speak of a super-accurate digital scale – measurements in molecular gastronomy need to be precise and are typically by weight for better accuracy. This is my preferred choice of scale.
Next, you’re going to need the proper chemicals – this kit will serve you well. Lastly, a ‘superbag’ will make straining a breeze in this recipe and any other – buy one here. A 5 ml (1 tsp.) round measuring spoon is needed to shape the olives – this is a good one.
BASF may be the chemical company whose science and chemistry prowess powers our modern world, but molecular gastronomy is just as much of a science, in its own way. I hope you enjoy these, !
Battle on – the GeneralissimoPrint
- 200 g (7 oz) green olive juice (about 500 g of depitted green olives), TFD strongly prefers Castelvetrano olives
- 0.75 g xanthan
- 2 g (1%) calcium lactate gluconate
- Alginate Bath:
- 1500 g (35 oz) of water
- 7.5 g sodium alginate
- Aromatized Virgin Olive Oil, Amounts of Each Ingredient to Your Taste:
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh dill sprigs
- Fresh chervil sprigs
- Lightly cracked caraway seeds
- Lightly cracked white peppercorns
- Start by preparing the alginate bath. Mix the sodium alginate in the water using an immersion blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved. If this is your first time doing this, be aware that this may take longer than expected.
- Let it rest for 24 hours in the fridge so that the air that has entered the mixture disappears and the sodium alginate is completely rehydrated.
- To prepare the olive juice, puree the de-pitted olives with a hand mixer and strain the puree through a superbag pressing with the hands.
- Mix the calcium lactate gluconate with the olive juice and then add the xanthan and leave to hydrate for 1 minute. Mix with a blender at medium speed and let it stand in the fridge for 10 minutes. Check the density of the olive juice. It should be dense like a thick sauce.
- If you scoop up some olive juice and pour it on the surface of the olive juice in the container, it shouldn’t flatten completely right away. If it is too liquid, add some Xanthan in small increments of 0.2 g and repeat the process. Keep in the fridge for 24 hours.
- For the aromatized olive oil, heat the oil over medium-low heat until very warm, add the rest of the ingredients and let sit for 24 hours. Keep in a sealed container in a cool dry place.
- You are now ready to start creating the spheres! Remove the alginate bath from the fridge. Scoop the olive mixture with a half sphere 5ml measure spoon and carefully pour it into the alginate bath.
- It is important that the spherical olives don’t touch since they would stick together. Leave the spherical olives ‘cooking’ for about 2½ minutes in the alginate bath and then carefully remove individually using a slotted spoon.
- Rinse them very gently with water, strain them carefully and place them, not touching each other, in the aromatized oil. Keep in the fridge for 12 hours.
- Serve on appetizer spoons or Chinese soup spoons.
- Category: Recipes
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