Under the sea

By Ben Reade What about the oceans? About 2/3 of the surface of theplanet is salt water, and the diversity of edible species waiting to be discoveredor rediscovered is enormous. During the last month or so Nordic Food Lab hadthe opportunity to explore the delights of the salt water world, working withfishermen and suppliers to help them promote the best, which is often not themost obvious. So from collecting periwinkles and limpets (perhaps theabalone of the north) along rocky shorelines, to hand-dived arctic urchins andFaroese langoustine we are presented with a host of luxury ingredients. Theseare very difficult to improve upon through processing, and more often than notare best served raw or almost raw very simply to allow the true character ofthe ingredient to shine through. A north Atlantic delicacy, langoustine is a sweet anddelicious treasure when it is in premium quality but can easily arrive to chefslong dead and … Read more

The real reason we remove drone brood

posted by Josh Evans I recently met with an entomologist at Copenhagen University who specialises in apiculture and bee pathology, and it turns out that the reason beekeepers remove some of the drone brood early on in the season is not to enhance honey harvest (as I naïvely thought) but rather as a strategy to regulate the Varroa mite population in a hive. The larvae are an easy target for the mite, and the drones in particular attract the highest concentration of mites because of their extended developmental period, staying in the larval stage for a few days longer than worker bees. Once the queen lays the eggs in the comb, the individual hexagonal cells are sealed with wax until the larvae pupate and hatch – but not before the mites find their way into the cells too. Since the drones attract the greatest number of mites, beekeepers use drone … Read more

How to shuck bee larvae

  posted by Josh Evans In our last post on experimenting with bee larvae, we mentioned the challenge of how best to separate the larvae and pupae from the wax and honey residue that clings to their bodies. It is a time-consuming and tedious task, and we have been trying to find a way to separate the bees from the chaff efficiently, cleanly, and with high accuracy. After trying out different techniques, we realised we needed to bring in the big guns. LN₂ at 77 K / -196˚c Liquid nitrogen is so far the best method we’ve found. We drop a handful of larvae/pupae/mature drones/wax/honey – a complicated mixture – into the LIN, where everything freezes on contact with the roiling, smoking liquid. After fishing everything out with a strainer, simply rubbing the solidified bees between the hands quickly removes all wax and honey while keeping the bees intact – … Read more

Let The Game Begin

posted by Ben Reade Male mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) At Nordic Food Lab we have aconstantly evolving focus. One fundamental idea, however, is how the study of whole ingredients comes down to a study of biology. We analyze the ‘edible biogeography’ (thedistribution of edible species within our area) using a systematic approach toenable us to build a system of ‘gastronomic taxonomy’, or ingredientclassification. Modeling our outlook on the phylogenetic trees used by biologyto represent the evolutionary similarity and difference between species, we canstart to build our own ‘culinary phylogeny’.  While analyzing the ediblebiogeography one of the first things to become apparent is the furred and feathered wild game. These wild animals spend their time eating so many of the ingredients which are so celebrated by the gastronomic world, such as mushrooms,herbs and berries – which all impart their flavour to the meat. Typically wildanimals live very active lives which gives … Read more

A Yule Feast

posted by Josh Evans The holidays drew near and with them came the need to give the lab a deep clean before the break. And the best way we know to clear out the fridges and freezer is to cook. It is common in Denmark to have a julefrokost at one’s workplace – a ‘Christmas lunch’ with food, drink, and good company that starts in the afternoon and often goes into the night. An NFL Julefrokost would be the perfect way to put our leftover ingredients and experiments to good use: by turning them into dishes. And it would give us the welcome opportunity to celebrate the season together and the end of these past few months’ good work. Best of all, it gave us the chance to spend a good few days just cooking with and for each other. Julius, a masters student in Gastronomy and Health from Copenhagen … Read more