Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Daring Cooks - Molecular Gastronomy and Vegan Tuesday

This is a two for one post--Daring Cooks and Vegan Tuesday. I love when that happens! This month's DC challenge is an entry into the mysterious world of molecular gastronomy (MG)--the science of food. Though MG was originally conceived as a way to unite the various disciplines of food science, certain avant garde chefs began incorporating MG techniques into their cooking, sort of becoming chefs and food scientists. One of the very famous MG chefs is Grant Achatz, owner of Alinea--one of the most lauded restaurants in the US. This Daring Cooks challenge is based on one of Chef Achatz' recipes.

The actual recipe is fish poached in a butter sauce and served with "powders"--dehydrated flavors ground very finely. Being a veggie, I had to majorly adapt this recipe. Here's what I came up with: tofu marinated in sweet chile sauce and crusted with ground almonds and coconut; edamame; and parsley powder, lemon powder, and pea powder.

I sliced the marinated tofu into 1/2" slices, dipped each slice into sweet chile sauce, and then coated it with a mixture of ground almonds and coconut. I pan-fried the tofu in a bit of oil over low-ish heat until the crust was golden.

For the lemon powder, I sliced off the zest of a lemon and dried it on top of my stove. The kitchen was very warm so the peel dried in a couple hours. I do not have a food dehydrator, or a microwave, and I thought that the oven would end up browning the peel too much. Using the stove-top (heat off) worked well.

For the pea powder, I just ground up dried packaged snap peas--I love these for snacks. I used a coffee grinder to make all the powders.

I dried the parsley just like I did the lemon peel.

This is most defintiely not a recipe I would have ever made on my own. I confess to much ignorance when it comes to molecular cuisine. I don't understand WHY someone would choose powdered lemon over fresh zest. I've always thought that the fresher the better. I must be missing something because just a couple years ago Gourmet Magazine declared Alinea the best restaurant in the US.

How did it taste? The tofu was good; I really liked the almost sweet crust with the sweet-spicy chile sauce. The powders were okay. It was neat to dip the tofu in each powder, but I don't know that the flavors were improved by drying and grinding up. Still, it was a very interesting way to prepare and serve a meal.

Thank you Sketchy and Daring Kitchen for pushing me into trying something completely new. I'm just not sure I'm quite ready for molecular gastronomy yet.

Please visit this month's host, Sketchy, to get the recipe: http://blog.sketchyskitchen.com/
**His blog is having technical difficulties so if it's not working please check back later.

You can find all the wonderful Daring Cooks and Bakers here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/


  1. I have never heard of MG...I'm with you though in not understanding why someone would want to eat like that. I'm intrigued by your photo of dried snap peas. Where do you get those?? I love snap peas and it sounds like a yummy snack.

  2. Tofu marinated in sweet chili sauce and coated in almonds and coconut sounds magnificent! Your dish cam out beautiful - nd the powders 'pop' nicely. Well done!

  3. Way to go sweetie! You're way more daring than I was this month! I'm glad you got through it and I enjoyed the mental picture of you doing just that described in your email. hehehhee!


  4. Ditto what Lisa said. I am a die hard carnivore and that sounds delicious.

  5. Thank you so much for the lovely comments!!

  6. How cool! Even if it wasn't your thing, you tried it! I did the first Daring Cooks challenge and fell off the wagon for the last two. I need to get back in the game.

  7. What a great posting just love the idea of the tofu in sweet chilli sauce then in almond and coconut. And I like your simple plating very nice and those pixs are wonderful. Good to hear you learnt some new skills. O and a tip to clean out your grinder use a piece of bread it really does work and your next coffee wont taste like spices and herbs. Cheers from Audax


  8. Thank you so much Wendy and Audax!

  9. Oh man I love those snap pea crisps. I'd eat them by the truckload if I wasn't careful.