Poppyseed Kuzumochi with Tomato Vine Dashi

Shiitake and Poppyseed Kuzumochi with Tomato Vine and Dulse Dashi, Lovage Oil and Spring Onion

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Kuzumochi are sort of sweet set japanese kuzu dumplings. They and thickened with kuzu (a gluten free japanese starch) and set to a texture somewhere between a gel and a soft dumpling. Here I add poppy seeds to them to give them added texture. Then they are also flavoured with shiitake mushroom powder and maldon salt so the kuzumochi are a mix of sweet an savoury, which pairs perfectly with the delicate sweetness of the tomato vine dashi.

The sous vide tomato vine and dulse dashi has a beautiful complex flavour with a punch of umami from the dulse and the lovely aromatic flavours from the tomato vines. Then the dish is dotted with lovage oil, which is a unique flavour with notes of anise. And finally spring onion provides freshness and the dish is finished with fresh viola petals.

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Kuzumochi
40g Kuzu
20g Caster Sugar
200g Water
1.25g Shitake Powder (dried shiitake mushrooms blended to powder)
5g Poppy seeds
2.5 Maldon Salt

Combine the water, kuzu and sugar in a pan and stir well to dissolve the sugar and kuzu cold. Then gently heat the kuzu mixture in the pan, after a few minutes it will suddenly thicken and turn translucent.

Remove the thickened kuzu mixture from the heat and fold in the shiitake powder, poppy seeds and salt.

Now spread this mixture into silicon hemisphere molds (available
here). Chill the kuzumochi in the fridge for one hour to set then carefully remove them from their molds.

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Tomato Vine and Dulce Dashi

20g
Dried Dulse
10g Yeast Extract
20g Tomato Vines
One Litre Water
5g Grated Long Pepper

Seasonings
10g Fresh Lemon Juice
10g Tamari
Large Pinch of Salt

Vacuum pack the dulse, tomato vines, yeast extract, water and grated long pepper at a high vacuum.

Cook the vacuum packed dashi at 60C for one hour then immediately chill in ice water.

Season the dashi with the lemon juice, tamari and salt.


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Lovage Oil

70g Lovage Leaves
210g Grapeseed Oil

Blanch the lovage in rapidly boiling water for 5 minutes, then place straight into ice water.

Strain the lovage and squeeze out any excess moisture, then allow the lovage to dry (you can speed this up buy placing the blanched lovage n the dehydrator for 30 minutes at 42C).

Combine the lovage and oil in a pan and gradually bring up to 60C.

Now while hot pour the oil and herbs into a liquidizer and blend continuously for 10 mintues.

Allow the oil to cool and infuse for around two hours then strain through a super bag or fine muslin.

For a really clear brilliant green oil I then spin the oil in a centrifuge but this is an optional step.

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Plating Up

Gently heat the kuzumochi in a pan with the dashi up to about 60-70C.

Remove the kuzumochi and place one in the centre of each bowl.

Pour over a little of the warmed dashi.

Then place sling onion strips in the bowl and dot over the lovage oil.

Finally garnish with fresh viola petals.

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Sous Vide Caramelised White Chocolate

Sous Vide Caramelised White Chocolate
&
Caramelised White Chocolate and Saffron Ice-Cream - Sous Vide

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NOTE THE FULL RECIPE FOR THIS DISH APPEARS IN MY NEW BOOK ‘VIBRANT VEGETARIAN’




Caramelised white chocolate is a delicious product, with flavours of caramel, dulce de leche, white chocolate and nutty/coffee roasted notes. Strictly speaking it turns out we shouldn't really call it 'caramelsied', as i'll explain in a moment, but for convenience and because it sounds best i'm happy to continue to call it 'caramelised white chocolate’.

It’s usually made in the oven but I have been working on a method to make it sous vide which makes the process much more consistent, accurate and convenient. Basically the white chocolate is vacuum packed then cooked in a water bath whilst it slowly browns, no fuss, no mess, and a consistency fantastic finished product with amazing flavour.

I give you both the recipe for Sous Vide ‘Caramelised’ White Chocolate and for a Sous Vide Ice-Cream made with the caramelised chocolate bellow but first how this process works is worth a brief discussion.

At first I thought in this technique that the sugar in the chocolate was caramelising and causing the browning at the comparatively low temperature of 90C over a long cooking time in a similar way to what Harold McGee’s discusses in his excellent article about caramelisation here.

However having done some more tests I've found that actually rather than the caramelisation of sugar what we are really seeing here is a Maillard reaction.

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Vacuum Packed White Chocolate

The amino acids from the protein rich milk within the white chocolate react with sugars - this causes the browning and slowly creates delicious caramelised flavours. (To confirm this I ran various tests of caster sugar cooked SV at 90C for eight hours and whilst sugar alone won't caramelise or brown in these conditions sugar with the addition of a little milk will brown and develop caramelised flavours - this points to the Maillard reaction as the process at work. The Maillard reaction requires the presence of amino acids (in this case from the milk protein) and sugars, thus when I tried to brown the sugar on its own at 90C there was no reaction but with the addition of a splash of milk to provide the protein the browning reactions and flavours occur).

Basically caramelisation and the Maillard reaction are separate and distinct processes that can some times look very similar and are frequently confused. At times they can even produce similar flavours, as in this case. But Maillard reactions can occur at lower temperatures than caramelisation, which is why due to its protein component we can achieve the flavourful browning of white chocolate at 90C over 8 hours but not brown caster sugar at this temperature, at least not over a similar timescale.

Maillard reactions produces a wealth of flavour compounds which in this case give us the caramel flavours and roasted notes which make the 'caramelised' white chocolate so delicious.

So now following these experiments I’m really pleased to have a fantastic sous vide method for making this awesome product at a comparatively low temperature with much more consistency than I could achieve before in the oven. And understanding it as the Maillard reaction opens up possibilities of some more things I'd like to try in the near future.

The important thing to focus on though is not the science but that this is an amazingly delicious product.

The primary reasons here for cooking the chocolate, and also the ice-cream base, sous vide are - consistency, acuracy & convenience - already since mentioning this technique on twitter a lot of fellow chefs have commented on how useful it will be to have a method for ‘caramelising’ white chocolate which is this consistent without risking burning the chocolate.
Both the ‘caramelised’ white chocolate and the ice-cream base can be made using other techniques, but not with the precision and repeatability that sous vide offers or how simple it makes both these techniques.

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Sous Vide Caramelised White Chocolate after 6 hours at 90C

Sous Vide Caramelised White Chocolate

300g White Chocolate

Vacuum pack the chocolate and cook for 6 hours in a water bath at 90C.
The chocolate will turn a light gown within the first hour or two of cooking then gradually continue to darken.
I found that 6 hours gave me a great caramelised flavour and the intensity I want for the ice-cream but you could probably even push the cooking time on for another hour or two if desired for a darker caramel.

I’ve posted a version of caramelised white chocolate ice-cream before using ‘traditional’ methods for both the chocolate and the ice-cream, but I’ve chosen to revisit the ice-cream here as well as it also benefits from being cooked sous vide, so it seems like it fits neatly into this blog.


Caramelised White Chocolate Ice-Cream - Sous Vide

I then use this caramelised white chocolate in an ice-cream which is also cooked sous vide before freezing. In the case of the ice-cream base once again the sous vide method aids consistency, accuracy and makes the process easier and neater.

The method is incredibly simple, basically all the ice-cream ingredients are blended together, then vacuum sealed and cooked at 82C for 20 minutes which gives you a perfectly cooked ice-cream base which will keep in its vacuum bag in the fridge for up to a week before being frozen. So the ice-cream can actually be made well ahead of time but frozen as close to serving as possible to prevent the formation of large ice crystals and so keep a beautiful smooth texture.

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Caramelised White Chocolate Ice-Cream ready to be cooked Sous Vide

250g Caramelised White Chocolate (from above)
250g Double Cream
500g Whole Milk
100g Caster Sugar
6 Medium Free-range Egg Yolks
Pinch Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Saffron Threads

Combine all the ingredients except the saffron in a blender and blitz to a smooth consistency, then pass through a sieve.

Vacuum bag the blended ice-cream base with the saffron.

Cook the ice-cream base at 82C (from when the water bath returns to 82C after the initial temperature drop as the ice-cream is added to the bath), for 20 minutes.

Then remove the bag from the water bath and chill in an ice bath while squeezing the bag to ensure the contents are moved around well.

Now store the ice-cream base in its vacuum bag in the fridge for up to a week before freezing, or freeze immediately by your preferred method.

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Churning the Ice-Cream

Enjoy and please keep checkin in on the blog over the next couple of weeks as there should be some cool stuff finally ready share here soon :)