Wednesday, 23 October 2013


Salad of Radish greens, Wild rocket, Fennel & fennel fronds, olive oil leaf herb, watermelon radish, passionfruit, pomegranate, with a deconstructed vinaigrette of olive oil, pomegranate & passionfruit juice and balsamic pearls.

     This little salad came about from a walk around the backyard with a bowl and scissors, as this was harvested at the tail end of winter there wasn't the variety that spring or summer foraging has to offer. The most time consuming element from this dish was the balsamic pearls which are small spheres of gelled balsamic vinegar and was done using a technique called 'cold oil spherification' and this method could be used for almost any liquid. This technique uses agar agar powder or kanten in japanese where the bright red sea vegetable 'gracilaria' inhabits the coastlines. Agar agar has a high gelling property and is inhibited by only a few organics such as kiwi, paw paw, to name a couple as these contain an enzyme (papain) which breaks down the proteins in agar agar. On the upside agar begins to set at around 35 deg. c. and doesn't need refrigerating to set and the other is agar agar is thermo reversible meaning it can be melted back to liquid and re-set not to mention it is vegetarian also.                                                                                      
       To make the balsamic pearls I first put a tall glass of oil in the freezer for at least half an hour to chill the oil. Once this was done I placed some balsamic vinegar and 1% agar agar powder and whisked over a medium  heat to dissolve the agar and brought to the simmer before allowing to cool to around 55 deg.c. The vinegar solution was then drawn into pipettes (syringe) and dropped from about 3/4 of an inch from the oil allowing the vinegar enough time to set before it hits the bottom of the glass. The pearls were then strained and rinsed under cold water to remove the oil before placing into the fridge. At this point I must mention this elements ingredients being the only ones purchased and every thing else from this salad has come from the backyard.                                                                                                                          
        To plate this dish I placed shaved fennel and radish slices as a bed onto the plate, drizzling olive oil, pomegranate and passionfruit juice over this. Next the salad leaf were scattered on top and a pile of balsamic pearls were spooned at each end and scattering some around the plate along with the passionfruit pulp and pomegranate, garnished with fennel fronds.


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