Mistakes in molecular gastronomy


It is a little masochistic to dwell on one's mistakes. I doubt anyone thinks that I am perfect (not even my mother!) - but I think talking about our mistake serves a useful purpose. It's healthy for us to discuss our failings, and hopefully helps people from following in our footsteps.

After last week's success with making solid apple juice, I thought I'd try my hand at "spherification". A way to make vegetarian caviar pearls.

The process should be simple enough. Mix your preferred flavouring with a sodium alginate solution. Then drip into a calcium chloride bath.

We tried soy sauce and sriracha (separately):

A food syringe over a bowl of soy sauce

It started off well. The solutions dissolved properly, we mixed them, and then the disaster started. I just could not get spheres to drop out of the end of my syringe. We eventually ended up with a bowl full of "worms".

A bowl filled with goop

The soy sauce just turned into ghosts once they were dripped in. Dispersing and floating off like jellyfish. After a few minutes, we fished them out, dunked them in water, and plated them. The results weren't pretty.

Molecular jelly goop

A jelly-like goop. Fragile to the touch. Unappetizing to look at. The taste was good - I'll give it that. When scooped up onto the filo tarts, the flavour was as intense as if it had been drizzled directly from the bottle. The texture was, sadly, a bit slimy.

After much fuss, we did eventually manage a few spheres:

Two rather pathetic spheres of flavour

*sigh*

For reference, this is what it is supposed to look like!

Untitled

What mistakes did I make?

  • Didn't find a specific recipe for the ingredients I wanted.
  • Made far too much. I should have started small rather than wasting a couple of bottles of sauce.
  • Should have experimented with the pipette and syringe to see how to make droplets appear.

Luckily the ingredients were fairly cheap, and I only wasted a few hours.

Onwards!

Further reading about mistakes

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