My interest and experimentation with gelling agents started with a conversation with our friendly neighbourhood Sushi Chef, Tim from Armanogawa Sushi Noodle Bar. We were chatting about my recent truffle fun…(that’s going to be a post on it’s own)… I was telling Tim that I’d made some truffle vodka and how much I thought it would work with beef sushi. We joked about making that truffle vodka into a gel and putting it on sushi. Well that got me thinking and googling…and some experimentation ensued.
Firstly I tried to use cold soluble gelatine in the vodka; it just wouldn’t set (we’ll get back to this later). Next I tried making an infusion of fresh truffle and water, heated to reduce a little and intensify; I added agar agar and set to a gel. I took a chunk of this fresh truffle gel to our usual Tuesday evening dinner with Chef Tim.
Firstly we started with beef tatami; a thin slice of rare barely seared beef atop rice, with a slice of the truffle gel and salmon caviar (for the salt). Although this was quite delicious, it really didn’t cut it. Beef & truffle are made to be together…but not this one. A glimmer came into Tim’s eyes as he prepared and tried again, this time with some beautiful deep dark tuna.
The gel was cut differently this time and two styles were tried. With the gel atop the tuna, Tim flame seared the tuna & gel then topped with salmon caviar. A second was prepared and NOT seared. A note here: the agar gel is quite heat resistant, so did not breakdown when hit with a flame.
The flame seared version was nicer than the beef, but still did not hit the mark. The raw tuna (Maguro) with a wipe of Tim’s special chilli soy blend, topped with truffle gel – oh yum. Seriously this was delicious! It wasn’t fantastic, though delicious – the experiments need to continue. It might have to wait another year until truffle season again.
Back to that truffle vodka that wouldn’t set with the cold soluble gelatine. As I left it in the back of the fridge, after a few days it started to solidify. It became a little more solid every day, until it’s was crumbly. This was vodka and cold soluble gelatine nothing else. The taste is spectacular; I’m yet to use this, so watch this space.