We were experimenting with bouillons from different seaweeds, reducing them, and then, epiphany. Why not dehydrate the bouillon? We set it at 60 degrees overnight. The result was these amazing crisps (I suppose we will have to find more adequate nomenclature). They have a brilliant, meaty taste, but with green tones, and are a fantastic accent to a variety of foods, both meat and vegetable. The process only works with certain seaweeds- those with significant careegeanen (søl) or sugars (mannitol in sugar kelp) seem to have trouble drying out fully enough. Instead of beautiful “crisps” that melt in your mouth, they reduce to a rather sticky mess. We are looking into whether there is a way to adjust this.
For now we are just putting our real “sea salt” on just about everything we can.
The Nordic Food Lab conducted a sensory analysis of underutilized varieties of Nordic potatoes to evaluate their respective gastronomic potential and desirability.
We initially received forty individual varieties grown from Nordgen seed stock in their test farm. We processed these in a manner most consistent with average consumer cooking methods,(boiled) and selected ten that most interesting. The Nordic Genetic Research Center cultivated approximately five kilos of each variety for further testing. The specimens evaluated were:
SWE 3007 Sparrispotatis
DNK 3054 Æggeblomme
SWE 3062 Rödbrokig Svensk
DNK 3198 Kiva
NOR 3212 Fjellfinn
FIN 3223 Tammiston Aikainen
SWE 3230 Blå Mandel
DNK 3259 Minea
FIN 3267 Lemin Punanen
ISL 3304 Blaar Islenskar
These varieties were subjugated to the following processes: baking, boiling, sous vide, French fries, crisps, pureed, confit.
The tastings were conducted with a minimum of three trained chefs, although typically six persons participated. The tastings were conducted using a seven-point category scale (seven highest) to measure the intensity of each sensory attribute. Each panelist was given an appropriate description of the lexicon for each sensory analysis.
All the sensory evaluations were conducted with King Edward potatoes as a control.
As expected, certain qualities of each potato were rather more suited for different cooking methods. What excelled as a baking potato would sometimes flounder in a boiling test. Several of the varieties were interesting prior to testing, merely on their aesthetic qualities. Some varieties had qualities that would be desired by a professional, but perhaps not the amateur or household cook. The sparrispotatis were an example of this; while initially they produced a rather odd potato pure, we were able to manipulate them into a unique and excellent product.
Overall, as evidenced by the sensory analysis, The Nordic Food Lab recommends the following potatoes further work, and suggests integration into production:
There will be further information on each variety and cooking method as we crunch and enter the data.
This was an early evaluation of turnip varieties we received form NordGen- sort of a bonus as this was actually part of another project that those fine boys were working on. We boiled, roasted, pickled, fried, dried, confie and juiced the turnips.
Unfortunately, there were no great standouts. That is how this process works sometimes. We are going to give them a try next season, so that we can taste the cultivars at a very young age.
We were extremely curious about trying a seaweed ice cream. While there is some precedence of using seaweeds in dessert applications, primarily in Asian cuisine, it features far more predominantly as a savory ingredient. After some tests, we settled on Palmaria Palmata (Dulse, or Søl) as the most likely candidate, for the often flowery aromatics and slight liquorish hints in can impart. We chose a cold infusion into milk, we were not looking for robust, deep sea flavors, but rather the gentler fragrant notes that makes this seaweed one of our favorites.
One liter of milk with 30g Søl, cold infused for eight hours. We chose a simple, light ice cream base that would not need to be cooked, possibly altering the gentle flavors we were looking for.
Søl Ice Cream
600g milk, cold infused with Søl, strained
24g thick and easy
Dissolve the sugar and the trimoline in the cream. When cool, combine all ingredients, thoroughly mixing and freeze in paco containers.
As an added experiment we took the reserved 30g of Søl from the infusion and incorporated into one half of our recipe; would the actual seaweed be beneficial? After we spun the two ices there was an obvious visual difference- the infused only version was white with only a hint of color acknowledging the flavor, while the other brightly celebrated it’s ingredient. On tasting however, the white, infused only ice was the clear victor. The flavor was light, round, and quite the delicate floral hints that we had been hoping for. It was also oddly reminiscent of green tea ice cream, in a pleasant way. The Søl incorporated version was murky, muddy in a more of a just damp seaweed sense.
Strained, cold infused the clear winner.