Monday, March 31, 2014

52WoC Week 11: Molecular - Strawberry Foam

Molecular gastronomy has honestly never interested me too much. Maybe it's the high prices at restaurants or all the weird chemicals and techniques normally associated with it but I think more than anything, it's just that I really enjoy rustic dishes. But week 11 required me to step out of my comfort zone and that I did with solid results. I recently finished marathonining Mind of a Chef on Netflix and during one the episodes, David Chang details how he makes a basic strawberry foam. It seemed simple, delicious, and worth a shot.

The process of making this is fairly basic. I want emphasize this point. Molecular gastronomy can be very complicated and involved but this is a very simple, beginner recipe that doesn't require any special equipment or weird ingredients. You are simply whipping strawberry juice to incorporate air but since you also add gelatin, it helps stiffen the juice, trapping the air inside the juice. You are left with a light, bubbly, strawberry Jello-esque foam. I'm struggling to describe exactly what this makes but it is very much a suspended foam. It's very airy but still has some density to it. It's an interesting mouth feel to say the least. I ended up pairing mine with vanilla ice cream and crushed corn flakes for texture - I was attempting to replicate a bowl of Special K. And quite honestly, it played that way quite well.

Strawberry Foam

Qty Ingredient Procedure
16 oz frozen strawberries1
  1. Defrost the strawberries in the fridge overnight.
  2. When thawed, puree with a blender or food processor. Run through a sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Heat over low heat or in the microwave until warm.
2 tsp sugar
  1. Add sugar to warm strawberry puree and stir until the sugar dissolves.
1 packet gelatin
  1. Add the gelatin to the puree.
  2. Place the puree in a small bowl in a bigger bowl with ice. Whip quickly until bubbles form.
  3. Place in the fridge to finish setting up, roughly 4 hours.

This recipe is very simple and can be done with common ingredients. Start by thawing your frozen strawberries. I let mine sit in the fridge overnight but you can microwave them if desired. You really just want them to be very soft so when you blend it you don't have ice crystals suspended in the puree. Once thawed, run them through the blender until completely smooth. At this point, run through the puree through a sieve to get rid of all of the seeds.

Warm up the remaining puree until warm but not hot. You can do this over the stove in a small pot or microwave it for roughly a minute. Once warm, incorporate the sugar. If you want it sweeter, simply add more sugar than specified. Once fully dissolved, remove the puree from the heat and add the gelatin to it. You want this to completely dissolve.

Now this is the only complex part of this recipe. You want to set up a bowl that can hold all of your puree then put that in a bigger bowl. The bigger bowl will have ice in it so the smaller bowl will sit in the ice. Add the puree to the small bowl and whisk the life out of the puree. As the air bubbles starts to form in the puree, the gelatin will start to set because of the ice which will trap the bubbles in the foam. You can use a egg beater or immersion blender instead of whisk to incorporate air quicker. You roughly want the volume to double. Set the foam in the fridge for roughly 4 hours to finish setting up. I served mine with ice cream and some corn flakes that way you get the creaminess of the ice cream with something crunchy to complement the smooth strawberry foam.

  1. You can definitely use fresh strawberries instead of frozen no problem. Only reason I used frozen was because that was all my grocer had when I was experimenting with this recipe.  

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