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Authors: Jason Logsdon

Tags: #Cooking, #Methods, #Gourmet

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BOOK: Modernist Cooking Made Easy
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Basic Ratios By Weight
Vinaigrettes
0.1-0.75% xanthan gum
0.3-1.0% lecithin
0.5-5.0% mono and diglycerides

Emulsifying is a very old cooking technique. Basically, it is when two liquids that don’t mix become combined in a way that is stable. The most common household emulsion is probably a vinaigrette.

Since the two liquids are still separate they can fall out of suspension, causing the emulsion to “break”. This is what happens when your bottle of vinaigrette has been sitting for awhile and the oil is all at the top with the vinegar at the bottom.

Each emulsion has two components, the “dispersed” liquid and the “continuous” liquid
[3]
. The dispersed liquid is distributed within the continuous liquid. For example, if a swimming pool full of people was an emulsion the people would be the “dispersed liquid” and the water would be the “continuous liquid”.

The majority of culinary emulsions are water based. These emulsions can take one of two forms, either water-in-oil, where the water is dispersed in the oil, or oil-in-water, where the oil is dispersed in the water. Some common oil-in-water emulsions are mayonnaise, Hollandaise sauce, vinaigrettes, and milk. Butter is the most common example of a culinary water-in-oil emulsion.

S
TABILIZERS

Because emulsions are two different liquids that are in suspension, there is the tendency for them to separate and break apart. The way to counteract this is by adding something to strengthen the emulsion, which are called emulsifiers. These emulsifiers can work in a number of ways but they all make the emulsion stronger and less likely to break.

Several traditional emulsifiers are egg yolk (mayonnaise), mustard (vinaigrettes and sauces), and certain proteins (milk). Modernist cooking has introduced several new ones, many based on extracts from the traditional ones. For example, lecithin is the active emulsifier in egg yolks and can also be extracted from soy beans. Lecithin is also the emulsifier used to keep the cocoa butter and cocoa emulsified in chocolate bars.

Many of the newer emulsifiers are much stronger than the traditional ones. This means that a smaller amount has to be used to achieve the same result with even less of a change in flavor. Adding a teaspoon of mustard to your vinaigrette changes the flavor drastically (albeit often in a good way) while a gram of lecithin will preserve the initial flavors.

Another unique use of modernist emulsifiers is the ability to combine them in a way to reduce the amount of oil or fat needed. This helps create low-fat emulsions, including low-fat mayonnaise.

You can also create “cream” emulsions from any fat and liquid combination, instead of just milk fats. This allows many interesting applications such as a bacon “cream” or other flavored creams. As mentioned in
Modernist Cuisine
, you could also make a “cream” sauce used in kosher preparations since there would actually be no dairy in it.

E
MULSION
P
ROPERTIES

Droplet Size

The finer the droplet size, the more stable an emulsion usually is. Using mechanical tools like a blender can create very small droplets which allows the emulsion to last for much longer than just using a whisk.

Viscosity of Liquid

The higher the viscosity of the liquid, the more stable the emulsion will be. By adding thickeners such as xanthan gum you can increase the stability of the emulsion.

E
MULSIFYING
T
OOLS

There are many different tools you can use make emulsions. The most common one is the whisk, which does an ok job for vinaigrettes that don’t have to last as long.

A good option to the whisk is an immersion blender. It creates finer droplets in the emulsion which leads to greater stability. A standing blender or food processor also works very well.

At the high end of emulsion making are rotor-stator homogenizers, ultrasonic homogenizers, and the high-pressure homogenizer. These are all highly specialized tools that create incredible small droplets in emulsions.

V
INAIGRETTES

Vinaigrettes are one of the most simple emulsions and most cooks are familiar with them. They are the combination of vinegar with oil, though in this book we refer to most mixtures of oil and liquid as a vinaigrette.

A basic vinaigrette is 1 part vinegar and 3 parts oil that is whisked or blended together. With modernist ingredients you can help stabilize the vinaigrette in a few ways.

Thickening the liquid will help keep the vinaigrette from breaking. This can be done with any of the thickeners but we typically use xanthan gum.

You can also strengthen the vinaigrette by adding an emulsifier. There are several different ones but lecithin or mono and diglycerides are our favorites.

The stabilization techniques can usually be used together for even stronger emulsions.

Vinaigrette Process

To make the strengthened vinaigrette I recommend creating a standard vinaigrette first and adjusting the seasoning as you like. Then you can blend in the stabilizers.

I prefer to use an immersion blender because it is the most convenient method for me, has very little clean up, and makes good emulsions.

Vinaigrette Ratios

For a typical vinaigrette, lecithin will be added as 0.5% to 1% of the liquid by weight. To help strengthen the emulsion you can add some xanthan gum at a 0.1% to 0.4% ratio, which will also slightly thicken it. You can also use mono and diglycerides at a 0.5% to 2.0% ratio.

 

 

B
ASIC
S
TRENGTHENED
V
INAIGRETTE

The combination of lecithin and xanthan gum creates a vinaigrette that almost never breaks. This is a basic version of a red wine vinaigrette but you can use the lecithin and xanthan gum combination with almost any vinaigrette.

Makes 1 cup

Tools Needed

Lecithin

Xanthan gum

Immersion blender

A scale with small gram measurements

Ingredients

62 grams red wine vinegar, about ¼ cup

1 shallot, sliced

1 garlic clove, minced

Salt and pepper

165 grams olive oil, about ¾ cup

1.3 grams lecithin powder, 0.6%

0.45 grams xanthan gum, 0.2%

Combine the vinegar, shallot, garlic, salt, and pepper in a narrow bowl or mixing container that works well with your immersion blender. Let sit for 5 minutes. Blend in the olive oil with an immersion blender or whisk attachment.

Taste the vinaigrette for seasoning and adjust the olive oil and vinegar to control the acidity.

Once the vinaigrette tastes balanced to you add the xanthan gum and lecithin then blend well to combine. Taste the vinaigrette and make sure the mouthfeel and thickness is what you prefer. Add more xanthan gum or liquid to adjust the thickness.

It is now ready to be served.

 

 

B
ASIC
T
HICKENED
H
ERB
V
INAIGRETTE

Another way to easily emulsify a vinaigrette is to thicken it. The thicker liquid helps to hold its shape more and trap the oil inside. An added benefit of a thickened vinaigrette is that it more easily clings to and coats the food.

You can easily tweak this recipe to be thicker or thinner and to change the flavors how you like.

I really like this vinaigrette on fish or chicken, although it is also great on salad.

Makes 1 cup

Tools Needed

Xanthan gum

Immersion blender

A scale with small gram measurements

Ingredients

62 grams white wine vinegar, about ¼ cup

1 shallot, sliced

Salt and pepper

165 grams olive oil, about ¾ cup

0.45 grams xanthan gum, 0.2%

½ cup fresh basil, chopped

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Combine the vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper in a narrow bowl or mixing container that works well with your immersion blender. Let sit for 5 minutes. Blend in the olive oil with an immersion blender.

Taste the vinaigrette for seasoning and adjust the olive oil and vinegar to control the acidity.

Once the vinaigrette tastes balanced to you add the xanthan gum and blend well to combine. Taste the vinaigrette and make sure the mouthfeel and thickness is what you prefer. Add more xanthan gum or liquid to adjust the thickness.

Once the thickness is what you want stir in the basil and parsley.

The vinaigrette can now be served at any time or can be held for several hours. If holding for longer than a few hours you can refrigerate for a day or two before it breaks.

 

 

T
OMATILLO
S
AUCE

Tomatillos have a natural acidity in them that can work really well in a vinaigrette-like sauce. The sauce comes together very quickly and can be tweaked in many directions. In this recipe I flavor the sauce with some honey, garlic, and cilantro but you could also add serrano peppers for a spicy sauce, or avocado and lime for a slant on guacamole. This sauce is great on flank steak or a white fish like cod. It can even be used as a salad dressing.

Makes about 1 cup

Tools Needed

Xanthan gum

Standing blender

A scale with small gram measurements

Ingredients

150 grams tomatillos, dehusked, washed, and stem removed

42 grams honey, about 2 tablespoons

2-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Several cilantro springs, roughly chopped

55 grams olive oil, about ¼ cup

Salt and pepper

0.25-0.5 grams xanthan gum, 0.1-0.2%

Place the tomatillos, honey, garlic, and cilantro in a blender. Puree until smooth.

Drizzle in the olive oil while the blender is running. Salt and pepper to taste and taste to ensure the acidity and sweetness is balanced.

Once the sauce has the flavor you want, add the xanthan gum, starting at the lower end, and puree to mix. Taste the vinaigrette and make sure the mouthfeel and thickness is what you prefer. Add more xanthan gum or water to adjust the thickness as needed.

The tomatillo sauce can be served at any time or can be held for several hours. If holding for longer than a few hours you can refrigerate for a day or two before it separates. You can give it a quick blend with a blender before serving if it has separated.

 

 

C
HIPOTLE
V
INAIGRETTE

This is a nice and spicy vinaigrette that can be used on taco salad or any salad you want to give a kick to. You can also add a little more xanthan gum and use it as a sauce on fish, chicken, or steak.

This recipe makes about ¾ cup.

Tools Needed

Lecithin

Xanthan gum

Immersion blender

A scale with small gram measurements

Ingredients

50 grams lime juice, preferably fresh

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

1 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

Salt and pepper

90 grams olive oil

Several cilantro sprigs

0.8 grams lecithin powder, 0.6%

0.2 grams xanthan gum, 0.2%

Combine the lime juice, chipotle pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a narrow bowl or mixing container that works well with your immersion blender. Blend in the olive oil with an immersion blender or whisk attachment.

Taste the vinaigrette for seasoning and adjust the olive oil and lime juice to control the acidity.

Once the vinaigrette tastes balanced to you add the xanthan gum and lecithin then blend well to combine. Taste the vinaigrette and make sure the mouthfeel and thickness is what you prefer. Add more xanthan gum or liquid to adjust the thickness.

Add the cilantro and blend it briefly with the immersion blender. It is now ready to be served.

 

 

S
PRING
S
ALSA

This spring salsa is very simple to make and really adds some lightness and flavor to a dish. It’s great in late spring when the cherry tomatoes are just starting to ripen. It also goes well with steak, chicken or turkey breasts.

BOOK: Modernist Cooking Made Easy
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