*Some sections may be outdated (in that I found the ingredients I was looking for) or incomplete (check the update).
I have been busy with this blog for the last few weeks. Not cooking recipes from the book, but sourcing the specialty ingredients of this book. I first looked for the acids and sugars that are used in the book. I came across a brewery webshop that carried all the acids (citric, malic and tartaric) and fructose. They also sold oak extract. Yes indeed, oak extract. In wine making it is used to give it an oak flavour as if it is aged beautifully in the finest oak. If you’re looking for some or all of these ingredients I would suggest finding a similar home brewery shop near your location. In the UK I came across this one for example.
My next target were the products of Texturas and Sosa. I have worked with some of their products and knew they sold some of the stuff I needed. I got calcium chloride (calcic), sodium citrate (citras), soy lecithin, invert sugar and isomalt via their lines.
Finding these ingredients was relatively easy, but know I came across an ‘ingredient’ I never thought to find in a cookbook: N-Zorbit M maltodextrin. My first instinct was to Google it and pray to god there was information available. Luckily people over at the eG Forums (a good forum for everything food related) discussed this product and even pointed to a source, namely National Food and Starch. They describe the maltodextrin as follows:
N-ZORBIT M is a tapioca maltodextrin derived from tapioca that has been specially designed to have a very low bulk density. This product is primarily used to increase the volume of dry mixes. In addition, this bland tasting maltodextrin functions excellently as a dispersant for dry ingredients in low solids preparations.
As you can see on the picture below the stuff has a very low bulk density, there sits only 1kg in the large container. With this technical sounding ingredient, which I thought I would never find, out of the way I was feeling I got most of the stuff from the book. How wrong could I be! After scanning the recipes a few more times I realised there were far more specialty ingredients hidden in the corners of the recipe, so I decided to note every single ingredient that is not readily available in stores (in the Netherlands).
I soon found out there are 6 essential oils used throughout the book. I spend some time on the internet to find an online store that sold all the oils, so I didn’t have to pay multiple times for shipping costs. I came across Aromatique Oils, who sell every oil except the lychee one, but lychee is, in comparison with other essential oils, rarely sold in online shops. So the next stop was finding lychee essential oil.
On a Dutch forum a user pointed to the Amsterdam store Jacob Hooy specialised in herbs, spices, teas, health products and essential oils. Via them I could order lychee oil, but they also sold other items on my shopping list. I could get liquorice roots, gum arabic, cod liver oil and Vitamin C (powder) from them. Nice.
Now the search became extremely difficult. I still needed gellan F, gellan LT100, maltodextrin DE19, powdered gelatine 200 Bloom (hard to get in my area), leaf gelatine 170 Bloom, yellow pectin slow set and transglutaminase. I was getting annoyed, cause I could not find this stuff. Gellan and transglutaminase are available on L’Epicerie and Le Sanctuaire in large packages, but they are expensive, shipping costs make them extremely expensive and they don’t get send to my location. What to do? Give up or spend a lot of money on these products and try to get them through someone in the States.
My solution was contacting CP Kelco, the distributor of the products, directly. To start at the source. Some e-mails and a few long telephone calls later and I could get some samples of not only the gellans, but also the pectin, gelatines and maltodextrin! Wow, this made quite the difference and show that with a little straightforward action and helpful people you can get help from the most unexpected places.
At this period in time I visited my local wholesaler who carry the most amazing produce and deliver to lots of restaurants (they give workshops to professionals in the world of food and I was lucky enough to attend one of those workshops on modern products and techniques a few months back). I accidentally bumped into the instructor of the workshop and started talking about my quest to find these ingredients I have described. I specifically mentioned transglutaminase, because I had no idea where to get it and was a priority on my remaining list. To my surprise he told the wholesaler just started selling the stuff in 1kg packages for about 80 euros. That’s ok if you run a restaurant, but I figured I only needed 1/10, maybe even 1/20 of that amount. I asked if I could make an arrangement with him to buy a smaller amount and after some thinking on his part he gave me some transglutaminase in a drugs exchange kind of way and wished me luck. Wow, what a nice guy.
After this exchange I found skimmed milk powder, verjus, nitrite salt and popping candy at the same store and was close to finishing my list. There are however three ingredients I can’t find and any help would be greatly appreciated (info is in some sections outdated. I found these three ingredients for example). The first is spray-dried apple granules. After searching what it is I still can’t tell you exactly or point to a source where to find it. It is not freeze-dried nor regular dried apple and could only find references for it on some obscure webpages of Chinese pharmaceutical companies. So any input is more than welcome. The other ingredient is Flojel 60, produced by National Starch and Food, but they only deliver it in bulk and don’t send out samples of this particular item. The last are sticks of concentrated liqourice roots. The recipe also calls for liquirice roots, so I know it’s not this stuff. Any ideas?
The remaining ingredients are whey powder, black cavendish tobacco and leather essence. Whey powder is used in chocolate wine, but that recipe requires a centrifuge, so I’ll see in the future if I have need for the powder. The essence I got from this website and the tobacco I will purchase when making the relevant recipe.
I thought my quest to finding the ingredients may be useful for others, so I wrote it up in detail.
I’ve just spotted three more specialty ingredients: sodium tripolyphosphate, sodium caseinate and nappage pectin (damn!). The first two are really hard to come by (CP Kelco sells them) and in my opinion not essential, but the nappage pectin is essential for the recipe. It can be bought online, but you have to buy large quantities for just one recipe. I found the liqourice in the form of pure licorice.
In the end I got the Flojel 60 from National Starch and Food.
Ebay is a good source for lots of products (realized it a bit late), like vanilla beans, gold powder, sheets of edible gold leaves, whey powder, blue shimmer powder and more.