This post is part of a larger series devoted to a Molecular Gastronomy focused meal I made: Molecular Gastronomy with an Asian Twist. Other posts in this series include Spherification (making "caviar", Pho Inspired Grilled Steak with Mint, Cilantro, and Lime, Sweet Basil Pesto with Rice Noodles, and Bok Choy Agar Noodles
Are you tired of molecular gastronomy yet?
This is the last post in the Molecular Gastronomy with an Asian Twist series.
Today we'll talk briefly about foams. Foam is essentially a semi-stabilized emulsion of liquid and air bubbles. We've all seen foam in our own familiar settings, whether it be in a cappuccino, a milkshake, or whipped cream.
It's when the the flavor of the foam becomes something unconventional that people start associating it with molecular gastronomy.
Even though Ferran Adria (one of the spear headers of this modern type of cuisine) hasn't used foam for years, the trend is still quite popular at many other restaurants. It's a unique way of adding flavor to a dish without a sauce. To get a good solid foam, add a stabilizing agent such as gelatin or lechitin before mixing up your flavoring agent with a hand blender.
For my crazy molecular molecular gastronomy meal, I decided to make a cilantro foam (Bryan's favorite herb!) to use alongside my deconstructed Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup dish.
A foam is a mixture of liquid and air. In my case, since I wanted to make cilantro foam, I had to first make a liquid version of the herb. To get the maximum flavors out of the herb, I steeped cilantro in hot water for about 10 minutes before blending the mixture in the blender.
The foam worked out OK, although it was not as fine as the ones I have seen at restaurants. I'm not sure if it's because of the nature of my little hand blender, or whether it's because a different additive (such as lechitin) would have worked better.
I guess as I continue to learn more I will share about it! For now, this method works OK. The foam lasts about 1-2 hours, which should be fine for a dinner party. You can always create the liquid first and then just whip it up right before guests arrive.
1 cup water
¾ cup chopped cilantro
1 pkg gelatin powder (2 tsp)
1 tablespoon cold water
Boil water in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and pour over chopped cilantro and let sit for 15 minutes. Blend the cilantro-water mixture and pour over cheesecloth to filter out the solids. Add cold water to the gelatin package and let sit for 5 minutes. Add cilantro liquid mixture to the gelatin mixture. Whip the mixture with an immersion blender (or wire whisk!) until a foam has formed. Refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to use.
The foam will stay set for a couple hours, but will eventually start to deflate. It's best to make it soon after you plan on serving it.
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