When a kitchen meets a chemistry lab
Does your palate have a mind of its own? Do you like teasing it with unusual textures and flavours of food? Using molecular gastronomy techniques lends not only a playful appearance to the food but also allows gives chefs room to be creative within certain scientific constraints without actually compromising the flavour of the food. It certainly piqued our curiosity.
Chef Ricardo Acquista, chef de cuisine at the Ritz Carlton’s Porcini restaurant opened his kitchen doors to us. After working alongside Ferran Adria, one of the most illustrious chefs of molecular gastronomy for nearly six years at the legendary El Bulli restaurant in Spain, Chef Acquista now leads the team at the Ritz-Carlton in Qatar.
He prepared a dish of ‘Lamb Loin with Mint Pesto’ and used molecular techniques such as emulsification and spherification to add molecular effect to the food. The recipe itself was simple and the food packed with flavour but the transformation of everyday ingredients like honey and orange juice into honey caviar and citrus foam enhanced the appearance and added colour to it. The techniques he used are effortless and can be adopted at home as well.
- The chef drizzles a chop of lamb marinated with mint and orange with some olive oil before he sautés it and then inserts it into the oven.
- With the lamb cooking in the background, Chef Ricardo then sets mint leaves and the mint pesto together on a plate in an intricate arrangement.
- Once the lamb has cooked suitably, he gently whisks together foam made of the juice of a squeezed lemon and soy powder into a foamy liquid. He then spoons this foam carefully onto the lamb and wipes away any excess. The preparation of this foam is a molecular technique known as emulsification.
- The citrus foam rests peacefully atop the bed of meat and vegetables.
- Chef Ricardo Acquista transforming his kitchen into a chemistry lab.
- The transparent globules of honey caviar glisten on top of slices of cheese. These are made from honey placed in a little mould and set in a freezer for 24 hours at very low temperatures. This honey caviar is yet another application of a molecular technique, spherification.