So I was going to hold off on sharing this yet but as my ideal date for publishing my forthcoming book has already passed I though it would be nice to share one of the techniques I worked on which is included in the next book. As far as I’m aware no one else has done this and it’s something new with the potential to be expanded on.
Basically this was an idea that I’ve had floating around for ages but hadn’t until now refined into something that worked how I wanted. The basic idea was to find a way to add protein to vegetables or a vegetable base, along with flavour, then bind this with transglutaminase (an enzyme which can bind proteins together sometimes know as meat-glue) so that you have an end product with a new texture and flavour which can be cooked if you wish but that is built from just a couple of ingredients.
I used mushrooms, and this is now something I’ve made many times and given out tasters of, and it is truly delicious! Definately the meatiest thing you will ever taste that isn’t actually meat! Its got amazing depth of flavour from the combination of mushrooms with umami rich tamari and then a final stage of being smoked before being salted and marinated in oil. It has a flavour like a cured or aged product and a big hit of Umami
I’m going to share the technique and my recipe here but not the completed dish that I use this in, you’ll have to wait for the book for that and the other new ideas I’ve been developing (now due in september).
So before the recipe here is the break down of the techniques basic steps
1) Slice & dehydrate your chosen vegetable (in this case mushrooms sliced thin)
2) Rehydrate the vegetables in a 12% soy protein isolate solution along with additional flavours (in this case tamari)
3) Squeeze the vegetable to get rid of as mush liquid a possible
4) Stir 5% of the mixtures weight of transglutaminase through the prepared vegetables
5) Press the Vegetables in a tofu press or similar for around 4 hours to bind together
6) Now its set vacuum the resulting pressed block and cook sous vide at 62C for 2 hours to de-nature the enzyme (necessary in some countries for food hygiene when using transglutaminase)
Additional steps -
7) I then cut the pressed mushroom block into cubes and smoked it with oak using a Smoking Gun
8) FInally I salt the pessed mushroom cubes and marinade them in oil
Note - Transglutaminase is itself an enzyme rather than a meat product and so is suitable for vegetarians so long as you check with your suppler that it was produced in a manner suitable for vegetarians.
Recipe - Pressed Mushrooms
This recipe could be adapted so long as you use 5% Transglutmainase and 12% Soy Protien Isolate
80g Dried Sliced Mushrooms (from approx 750G fresh mushrooms dehydrated)
500ml Boiling Water
60g Soy Protein Isolate
20g Transglutaminase Activa EB
First slice thin and dehydrate approx. 750g fresh mushrooms.
Dehydrate at 52C for 12 hours
You should end up with approximately 80g dried mushrooms.
In a bowl mix the 80g of dried mushrooms with 120g tamari
Then in a jug mix together 500ml of boiling water with 60g Soy Protein Isolate, stirring well to create a slurry.
Pour this hot soy protein slurry over the friend mushrooms in the bowl and mix together well then allow this mixture to sit for one hour.
Next strain the mushrooms and using muslin squeeze out as much liquid from the mushrooms as possible.
You should have around 400g of mushroom mix at this point.
Season with maldon salt
Mix in 5% of weigth in transglutaminase - 20g in this case
Place this mixture in a tofu press lined with muslin and place a heavy weight on top then let this sit at room temperature for four hours while the transglutaminase binds the protein spiked mushrooms together.
Take the resulting firm pressed mushroom block and vacuum pack it then cook SousVide at 62C for two hours. When finished cooking place immediately into ice water to cool.
Now cut the mushroom black into cubes of your desired size and place in a bowl. Use the smoking gun to smoke the mushroom cubes with oak and sit them in the smoke for 5 minutes.
FInally sprinkle the pressed mushroom cubes with salt and place in a tub with a clove of fresh garlic and a couple of bay leaves and pour over enough rapeseed oil to cover.
Allow to marinade in the fridge for at least 24 hours before serving.
Hope you enjoy it
Sour Cucumber Puree
600g Cucumber Juice
120g Caster Sugar
8g Citric Acid
8g Ascorbic Acid
7g Agar Agar
Juice the cucumbers to obtain 600g fresh cucumber juice.
Immediately mix the ascorbic and citric acid into the cucumber juice, followed by the sugar.
Separate out 300g of the cucumber juice into a pan, whisk in the agar and gently heat to a simmer whilst stirring. Hold the mixture at a simmer for three minutes then remove from the heat.
Now off the heat slowly pour the cold cucumber juice which was set to one side into the hot juice in the pan. Stir and then pour out into plastic containers to set in the fridge.
Once the gel has set use a stick blender to blend it to a smooth puree.
Reserve in a squeeze bottle
240g Plain Tofu
1 Stick / 12g Kombu
50g Dried Shittake
500 ml boiling water
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Combine the kombu, shitake, thyme, tamari and vinegar in a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and leave to infuse for 2 hours.
Strain the dash and cut the tofu into 3cm cubes. Marinade the tofu cubes in the dashi at least 24 hours before cooking.
The Tempura Batter
100ml Methylcellulose Slurry (Made by blending 3g methylcellulose in 200ml boiling water then stirring until it cools and thickens - store excess in the fridge)
125g Plain Flour
2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice
Pinch Dried Chilli
A good pinch of salt
Mix all the liquids together and stir well.
Combine the flour with the spice and salt in a bowl.
Now whisk the liquid into the flour until smooth.
Strain the batter to remove any lumps.
Pour into a cream whipper and charge with two co2 chargers.
Chill if the fridge. Ideally for arround two hours
Heat deep frying oil to 190C.
Place pieces of tofu first into flour and coat. Shake off excess flour.
Spray some batter out of the whipper into a bowl.
Dip the tofu into the batter then drop in the fryer, cook 2-3 mins until crispy.
Drain off excess oil on paper towel.
Burn Dulse seaweed with a blow torch in a bowl until it no longer flames but just glows read.
Allow to cool, carefully place the ash in a spice grinder and powder, store in an airtight container
Plating up -
Dot cucumber purée arround the plate,
Place a few of the tofu tempura arround the plate.
Finish by sprinkling over the seaweed ash
Bronze Fennel, Apple and Elderflower Infused Cucumber, Feta
This dish was inspired by some of the things growing in my parents garden in the summer. This dish is just a couple of elements but to me it is my parents garden at this time of year on a plate.
I loved the shapes and look of the bronze fennel leaves and their natural taste, so I did nothing to these except for pick the tips at random. The leaves have a slightly sweet anise flavour, almost like liquorice.
I decided to pair the fennel with elderflower that was growing near by and then also apple, which goes beautifully with both fennel and elderflower.
I prepared a sweet and aromatic infusion of apple and elderflower, with a hit of calvados and vacuum infused (see bellow) cucumber with this liquid. The vacuum infused cucumber has a really interesting texture and a translucency that makes it look like gellee once it’s been cut to small 2mm cubes.
Vacuum infusing the cucumber with apple elderflower is my play on the idea of the dish as a salad. I also used tiny cubes of feta give a nice salty and sharp touch.
I loved playing with idea of presenting the dish in a way that contrasted the beautiful natural and spiky shape of the fennel leaves with the geometric shapes I cut the feta and infused cucumber into.
NOTE - I actually came back to this dish a year later and did a version of it for Norwegian D2 Magazine, here I included some diced pickled beetroot and a smoked apple puree.
They ended up using the dish on their front cover -
Apple and Elderflower Vacuum Infused Cucumbers
Apple and Elderflower Liquid -
400g Apple Juice
4 Tablespoons Dried Elderflower
75g Caster Sugar
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
Heat all the ingredients except the lemon juice in a pan and bring to a simmer. Allow to gently simmer, occasionally stirring, for 15 minutes.
Set the pan to one side to allow the liquid to slowly cool.
Then strain and add the lemon juice.
Chill in the fridge until needed
Cucumber Infusion –
The easiest way to perform this vacuum infusion is using a chamber vacuum machine, however if you do not have access to one you can go to the following link for information from Dave Arnold on other infusion techniques - see his post here
So first off I cut thin (a couple of millimetre thick) strips of cucumber flesh.
Place the cucumber strips in a tub. Pour over all of the chilled apple and elderflower liquid to cover the cucumber well.
Now pull a vacuum on the cucumbers which are submerged in the infusion liquid - you will see air bubbling out of the cucumber strips.
When you release the vacuum the air rushes back in - this will force liquid into the space left from removing the air from the cucumber
Once infused the cucumber will turn translucent. You then just need to cut the cucumber into small 2mm cubes.
Simply cut good quality feta to the same 2mm cubes as the cucumber
To Plate Up
I simply placed a few springs of the bronze fennel around the plate. Then placed cucumber and feta cubes all around the plate and finished off the dish with a sprinkling of fresh elderflowers and a pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt.
(Savory Beetroot Meringue using Methylcellulose)
An Introduction and two recipes –
- Savory Meringue
- Super light and crispy Tempura
Available from www.Modernist-Chef.com
Methylcellulose is a popular hydrocolloid which can form a gel or act as a thickener when hydrated. Particular to methylcellulose is that it gels when its heated rather than once it cools. Because of this unique quality it’s often used to make mousses and gellees which are firm when they are hot but melt as they cool. Due to this many chefs have used methylcellulose in the pursuit of creating a ‘hot ice-cream’, the idea being to create something with the texture of ice-cream but served hot which then melts in the mouth as it cools (personally I haven’t come across a version of this yet which I think really works i.e. really gives an experience like eating ice-cream only hot –but I hope someone will crack it at some point).
Methylcellulose is used in various ways in modern cuisine. It can be used to great effect to create foams. Can be added to liquids which may then be dried to form films and baked into crisp brittle sheets. It can act a replacement for egg whites in some recipes as it can be whipped in a similar way to provide a similar structural element in a recipe (like with the beetroot meringue recipe bellow).
It’s also used in some deep fried foods, as when it comes into contact with the hot oil in a fryer it forms an oil impermeable film. Due to this using methylcellulose in deep fried products both reduces the amount of moisture which escapes from the coated ingredient and also reduces the about of oil absorbed into the coated item – this can help to achieve a crispier, lighter product with a great texture.
Methylcellulose is one of the very few modern ingredients I use which is not entirely ‘natural’ but synthesized from natural ingredients, namely cellulose - often from cotton. Its non-toxic and non-allergenic and a perfectly healthy and safe ingredient to use in food so don’t be scared off by the fact it’s synthesized. Bear in mind you most likely consume it fairly regularly already as it’s used in huge variety of products including foods and medicines (even vitamin tablets).
Typical use levels –
0.5% - 2% typical concentration for use in cooking
To replace egg whites use 2g Methylcellulose blended into 35g water to replace each egg white. Note – Methylcellulose prepared this way will whip to stiff peaks but you need to be persistent in your whipping to get it to nice stiff peaks.
You can buy Methylcellulose here.
I will return to this post soon to add recipes and techniques for foams, hot gellees and mousses which melt as they cool, films, and brittle sheets - all using methylcellulose.
Savory Beetroot Meringue (vegan)