Molecular Gastronomy, What is it?
Molecular gastronomy or molecular cuisine is the science of cooking commonly used to describe a new style of cuisine in which chefs explore new culinary possibilities in the kitchen by embracing sensory and food science, borrowing recipes from the science lab and ingredients from the food industry and concocting surprise after surprise for their diners. Formally, the term molecular gastronomy refers to the scientific discipline that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. Molecular gastronomy recipes explore the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic recipes in general.
Many modern chefs do not accept the term molecular gastronomy to describe their style of cooking and prefer other terms like “modern cuisine”, “modernist cuisine”, “experimental cuisine” or “avant-garde cuisine”. Heston Blumenthal says molecular gastronomy makes cuisine sound elitist and inaccessible. In the end, molecular gastronomy or molecular cuisine refers to experimental restaurant cooking driven by the desire of modern cooks to explore recipes using the world’s wide variety of ingredients, tools and techniques.
molecular gastronomy makes cuisine sound elitist and inaccessible
Molecular gastronomy experiments have resulted in new innovative dishes like hot gelatins, airs, faux caviar, spherical ravioli, crab ice cream and olive oil spiral. Ferran Adria from El Bulli restaurant used alginates to create recipes of spherification which gelled spheres that literally burst in your mouth. Heston Blumenthal from The Fat Duck restaurant applied the learnings of the ability of fat to hold flavour in his menu’s recipes. The potential of molecular gastronomy recipes are enormous.
When people hear about molecular gastronomy recipes they often mistakenly view it as unhealthy, synthetic, chemical, dehumanizing and unnatural. This is not surprising given that molecular gastronomy often relies on fuming flasks of liquid nitrogen, led-blinking water baths, syringes, tabletop distilleries, PH meters and shelves of food chemicals with names like carrageenan, maltodextrin and xanthan.
The truth is that the “chemicals” used in molecular gastronomy are all of biological origin, usually marine, plant, animal or microbial. These additives are also used in very, very small amounts and have been approved by EU standards. And the science lab equipment used just helps modern gastronomy cooks to do simple things like maintaining the temperature of the cooking water constant (water bath) , cooling food at extremely low temperatures fast (liquid nitrogen) or extract flavour from food (evaporator).
Molecular gastronomy recipes require a good use of your left brain and right brain. Most of the molecular gastronomy recipes need to be followed precisely. At the same time, molecular gastronomy is about experimenting, being curious, using intuition, playing with emotions and creating a multi-sensory dinning experience with artistic dish presentations, textures, aromas, flavours and even sounds. If you are not a professional chef with a fully equipped kitchen you can still enjoy molecular gastronomy recipes at home with little cost. Many molecular gastronomy recipes don’t even require special equipment or “chemicals”. With a basic kit, you can get some basic molecular gastronomy substances to start making recipes with spheres, airs and gels. Luckily, finding good molecular gastronomy recipes with complete detailed explanations are becoming easier to find.
This article was originally published by Enthusio Chefs.