by Ben Reade. Well, faced with the question of how to capture the smell of chicken stock, which normally escapes into the air, we devised this contraption. Its basically a very rudimentary distiller. Because we already had an old fashioned pressure cooker which was easily adapted, it cost the price of a piece of tubing bought from a home-brew shop. and it works. By attaching the tubing to the air outlet of the pressure cooker we curled the tube up in a tub, and filled the tub with iced water. Vapor coming off the stock condenses once it hits the cooled tubing and liquid drips out the end. The liquid is transparent, it looks like water, but the smell… to say it smells of chicken is an understatement, a couple of drops of the good-stuff will make anything become like essence of chicken. By switching the collection bottle throughout … Read more
by Ben Reade. The ancient process of balsamic vinegar making which has been adapted and made local. Here a local producer draws up a sample of his sweet, tangy and rich apple balsamic vinegar, normally it would be of grape juice, but of course, here in Denmark the apples grow much more easily! The Apple juice is reduced to one third of it’s original volume and put into a system of 6 barrels of different woods. 1 liter can be taken out of the smallest barrel every year and the vinegar moves down the system, making more room in the largest for the new year’s harvest. This system here is in it’s tenth year, and its only going to keep getting better
by Ben Reade. In the docks of Copenhagen is an old smokehouse which used to provide smoked salmon and halibut for all of Europe. The fish here arrives on a Monday, and after one night under salt, it enters these enormous and historic smoking rooms. The smokey room you see is but one of many, there are corridors and corridors of these heavy iron doors, behind which fires can be laid of beech wood that smoke continuously without attention for three whole days and nights. Then the fish can be sliced or not, and packaged. Although there is, as the more observant amongst you my have noticed some tuna (not nordic at all) on these racks alongside the salmon, the other fish which is hidden in this photo is halibut. The danes have a wonderful tradition of smoking halibut, a truly Danish delicacy.
by Ben Reade. Curing meat is the product of cultures dealing with the problem of extending shelf life of meat by making it inhospitable to microbes. Evidence of meat curing can be found as early as 40,000 BC in Europe in the form of cave paintings in Sicily. The earliest preservation techniques would have utilized the sun, wind, rock salt, or salt from partially reduced seawater as well as ash from certain salt rich plants to dry meat. Partially drying meat allows the survival of only certain microbes with anti-pathogenic qualities whereas removing all water makes it impossible for the survival of any micro flora.Originally most products were made with mineral salts. The nitrous compounds contained in mineral salts help with preservation. Sea Salt (which is iodized) and in modern use is frequently mixed with nitrates to assist the process. Legally, one must have salt checked for impurities. Salt … Read more
by Ben Reade. As tuna doesn’t arrive in the North sea, we’ve had to come up with other ways of achieving an equivalent to the Japanese katsuobushi. We’ve cooked a brined tenderloin of pork in a sous-vide bag at 65°C for 1 hour, hot-smoked with hazel wood for 2 hours and then introduced to some of our trusty enzyme producing Aspergillus oryzae for help drying out and breaking down. when its done it will resemble wood and when shaved will provide a wonderful meaty/savory flavour. Recently we found out that David Chang was already working on a similar project at his restaurant Momofuku. We’re now in contact with him and keeping each other updated about our newest ‘bushi developments.
by Ben Reade. One really interesting project going on at the moment is the development of new recipes of miso. In Japan, miso is served at every meal, it is something with highly localised recipe variations where principle ingredients, normally rice, soya beans (or another legume) and sometimes barley are put to ferment in varying proportions with salt. There are two main parts of the fermentation. The first part in the Japanese technique revolves around the production of Koji, a traditional system of cultivating mold on steamed rice for the enzymes and particular flavour it produces. When these molds have really taken hold of the rice, this ‘koji’ is mixed with salt, cooked soya beans, and possibly cooked barley. The second fermentation occurs at this point, in the presence of salt the molds die and the enzymes they have produced continue breaking down the various carbohydrates and proteins in … Read more
by Ben Reade. Making small quantities of things is a great way to experiment and find new ideas. When used to make vinegar, fruits such as plums, cherries, black currants or blackberries typically produce flavours which remind us of the original fruit. They can be used to add acidity, depth and sometimes sweetness to a huge array of dishes. Vinegars like this also have great scope for aging, as the years pass, the flavours develop and change in a very similar way to wine. They build complexity and subtlety, at the same time becoming less harsh and ‘green’. Its very easy to make good vinegar, but it does take time. What you need is to ferment anything containing sugar (you can add it if you need to) using a yeast. This needs to happen in the absence of oxygen, so you need an airlock. Then the alcohol produced by the … Read more
by Ben Reade. Fish sauce is made all over the world, especially in the far east. It used to be a staple seasoning of the Romans here in Europe and some versions still exist in and around the Mediterranean. We’ve been developing a Nordic equivalent. These sauces of herring and mackerel have been sitting in our incubator tanks for some time now, and they’re starting to ripen up nicely. Most of the world’s home-made fish sauces are made over long periods of time, which allows them to mellow down slowly. We’re trying to speed up the process by inoculating with protein breaking microorganisms. Currently the samples pictured above are making their way to Harvard University for a deeper chemical analysis while we are use sensory analysis here in the Lab. Sensory analysis can be really useful to see how variations in the recipe change the final characteristics of the … Read more
by Ben Reade. In our quest for new nordic seasoning we have investigated dehydrating various fruits and vegetables. After much experimentation one really strong result has come out, cucumber powder. by dehydrating and then powdering these fruits a spice is attained which bears very little gustatory resemblance to the cucumber from whence it came. The flavour is sweet and sour with a spiced note akin to middle eastern spices. Try it! Cucumbers are cheap and this is an easy to make and new spice with fantastic potential
by Ben Reade. They say you either love it or you hate it, but in Denmark, neither is really an option, because it’s illegal here. ‘Why?’ You may ask, well, the government here doesn’t let any enriched/fortified foods into the country and Marmite is full of added vitamins. Does the law make sense? Well, quite probably, it does mean that you have to have a good diet, and not just some iron in your cornflakes to stay healthy, and people (generally) do. Anyway, Marmite and other yeast extracts are such a great source of umami taste that we couldnt resist making some ourselves. But we didnt want to copy the original, we wanted a luxury version, one plump and full of juicy flavours. This one in the photo is one of our more successful attempts, and were stil working on it. This “marmite” is not the commercially available, super salty … Read more