Recently, my son encountered some examples on youtube and we started looking into being able to do it ourselves. It’s both simple and complex, so it took a bit of research. One of the simplest processes is one called Basic Spherification. Here’s how it goes:
1 - You pick a juice or a puree
2 - You mix it with one chemical
3 - You drizzle drops of it into a bath of water and another chemical
4 - The chemicals instantly react to form a coating, a membrane, around the sphere of juice.
5 - You rinse it off and serve it, and it looks like juice caviar. When you pop them in your mouth, they pop with the flavor of the juice.
But first, a bit of tradition to go with our modernist dessert.
I wanted to make something to go with it. I mean, you don’t just eat caviar straight from the bottle, do you? I started thinking about things to put it on, a proverbial canvas to carry the paint. I wanted the base flavors to be subtle, not strong, but complementary to the caviar’s own. I decided on a rice pudding and an apple juice caviar.
So, today’s entry is not so much about molecular gastronomy as it is the prep for it. Then, in the next spot, I’ll tell you how to do the caviar.
Dutch Oven Rice Pudding
8” Dutch oven
12-13 coals below
3/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
First of all, I got some coals going, and I cooked the rice. Over time, I’ve developed a way to do rice that works for me almost every time, without burning. I put one part rice and two parts water into either my 8” or 10” Dutch oven and set it on coals to boil. I watch closely to notice when the steam starts venting out from under the lid. At that point, it’s been boiling for several minutes already. I’ll mark that time, and let it go for an additional ten minutes more. Then, I pull it off the coals and let it sit for another 15-20 minutes. At no time in this process do I lift the lid! Only after it’s all done.
In this case, however, instead of bringing it in and serving it, I put it back on the coals, and stirred in the milk, sugar, and salt. I put the lid back on and let it come back up to a simmer, and cook for another 15-20 minutes.
I whisked the milk and the egg together. I’m not sure if I needed to or not, but I decided to temper the egg, so that it wouldn’t cook and congeal when it suddenly hit the hot rice and milk. I got the egg and milk mixture in a bowl next to the Dutch oven, and, while whisking the egg mixture, gradually added big spoonfuls of hot rice and milk. The idea is to gradually bring the temperature of the egg up so that it blends in without scrambling. When it was all hot, then I poured it all into the Dutch oven. I added the final flavorings and let it cook for another 4-5 minutes.
A note about the seasonings, go easy. The idea is to create a platform for the apple juice caviar, so you want flavor, but not too much. Of course, if you are making the pudding just for a dessert and you’re not going to put anything on top, then season all you want!
Finally, I let it cool. Actually, because our first attempt at spherification bombed, I ended up refrigerating the pudding and bringing it out the next day. It was delicious, even the next day!
Mark has discovered a love of Dutch Oven Cooking. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.