Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vacuum Infusions (Do not use a Dustbuster for this)

Cold Smoked Sea Bass, Gin/Tarragon Cherry Tomato,
Frisee, Pink Peppercorn Salad

The Process (with Pineapple and Dark Rum)
The Mise: Pineapple, 2:1 Ratio of Dark Rum to Simple Syrup (ICE COLD!), Pinch of Salt

Put everything in a container and make sure the Pineapple is fully covered with the rum/syrup mixture. Put said container in vacuum sealer (ask your chef nicely for one if you do not yet have it at your disposal.)
Set vacuum setting to max, turn off the gas and wielding settings.

Run the process. In 30 seconds, the Rum mixture and Pineapples will start to go bananas crazy because the pores of the Pineapple are opening and the air is being sucked out, while the Rum is being sucked in. Let it run it's full cycle (about 2 minutes).

When the cycle is over, close the lid and start the process again, THIS TIME, bring the vacuum pressure up all the way (about 30 seconds into it) and put the process setting on hold so that the Pineapples may rest in a vacuum state for 10 minutes.

This is Pineapple Rum Spears resting in a vacuum state. Note the random carbonated looking bubbles. This is infusion doing it's thing.

After 10 minutes of vacuum, release the pressure, remove the Pineapple from the fluid (reserve the fluid for all sorts of reasons), pat dry and serve as a drink garnish.

I love learning anything and everything new in cooking,
and new techniques are at the top of the list.
The Executive Chef approached me and asked me to fire off this seemingly simple Pineapple garnish recipe (originally from a couple of instructors at the French Culinary Institute in New York) because the procedure looked new and pretty cool.
Indeed, it is cool. There are other ways of infusion, but this stood out because of it's effectiveness in a short time span. 10 minutes fully infused the Pineapple.
I wanted to play around with the concept a little further, so for my 'bouche the following day I devised a Salty/Citrus Brine for Sea Bass, and a Gin/Tarragon Simple Syrup for some skinless Cherry Tomatoes and used the technique on both to see what would happen.
For the Salty/Citrus brine, generally, I was impressed. I made a basic brine and used the vacuum technique to infuse it into the Sea Bass before patting dry and cold smoking it. The outcome was good but mixed. While the salt was present, there was no indication of Citrus. This is likely my fault as I used Lemon Juice and discarded the zest - thus not allowing enough Citrus flavour to begin with.
The Cherry Tomatoes worked out well. There was definitely an intense infusion, however, next time I would change the Gin/Simple Syrup ratio to ease up on the sweetness.

All in all, this is a beneficial tactic towards quickly infusing liquid into highly permeable products. Something I have wanted to try but haven't gotten to it is weather or not compressing the product after vacuuming will significantly intensify the flavours.
Loving the possibilities...

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