Specialty Equipment: refractometer
Specialty Ingredients: glucose, glycerine, teenage coconuts
Dish as in The Fat Duck:
Black Cavendish tobacco. What a revelation. My mind instantly went to cigarettes when I read about the use of tobacco in this recipe and couldn’t help thinking ‘why’. I was pleasantly surprised to find out Black Cavendish smells incredible, with hints of caramel and dried fruits. A very, very enticing smell. I haven’t smoked it yet, but am definitely going to try it. Just have to rustle up a pipe somewhere.
Before proceeding with the actual recipe I like to take up some space for the upcoming, and the last I have to cook by the way, recipe: the Sound of the Sea. There are a couple of ingredients I’ve been looking for for ages to no avail. They are:
Edible blue shimmer powder (got it)
Brown carbonized vegetable powder (hopeless)
White soy sauce (maybe got it)
Codium seaweed (can only puchase 1kg for >40€)
Japanese lily bulb (got it)
Anyone any thoughts on where to get these things? White soy sauce can be ordered online, but I can’t find any Dutch websites selling the stuff and am not to keen on the shipping costs I came across from other websites. As for the other ingredients I have no fucking idea where to even begin to look. I tried a couple of Japanese stores for the lily bulb, but all I got were blank faces and the occasional laughter when I left that a silly white boy wanted such a rare, indigenous ingredient. So tips are welcome.
Back to the coconuts. You have to drain them of their liquid (the coconut juice, often mistaken for coconut milk), break them open and ‘cut them roughly’. To open them I smashed the coconuts with a knife and threw them to the ground. Not at all graceful, but it gets the job done. I used mature coconuts by the way, not the teenage ones as specified in the recipe. Young and mature coconuts are abundant, but asking for teenage ones was like asking for Japanese lily bulbs. The Fat Duck gets them direct from a farm in Thailand, so it’s an indication your local deli will not have them in stock.
Seeing photos of the dish the flakes don’t seem to have been subjected to a knife, but a lemon zester. I cut the coconut flesh in pieces, cut them to give a more even surface and started zesting them.
When you’ve got the flakes you have to boil them in a mixture of glucose, palm sugar, glycerine, caster sugar, coconut juice and water for 5 hours. Oh yeah, 5 hours.
After getting married, divorced and seeing my grandchildren grow up the coconut flakes were done cooking. The cooking liquid needs to be reduced to 75˚ Brix after which you have to coat the coconut with the sugar mixture. I haven’t got a refractometer, so I calculated the sugar level of the starting liquid (keeping the sugar level of glucose, coconut juice and glycerine in mind) and reduced the mixture until 75% of the weight came down to the calculated sugar level. No idea if I came close to the right number and if it made any sense what I did.
Drying the slices in the oven for 3 hours at 70˚C, coating them in the sugar mixture for the second time and drying them again for 3 hours at 70˚C. You end up with brittle flakes with a chewy inside.
To infuse the tobacco you have to keep the flakes with a sachet of the Black Cavendish tobacco for 5 days. The recipe instructs to keep them in a large plastic container, keeping an open structure, to distribute the aroma evenly and ‘keep the surface dry, maintaining the texture’. I kept them in a large vacuum bag in the kitchen and unfortunately they lost some of their brittleness and got stickier. Maybe shouldn’t have kept them in the kitchen. Anyway a quick tour through a mildly hot oven got them crisp again.
I always find it difficult to write a closing section on the petit fours of this book. Almost all taste good, but on their own, devoid of a tasting menu, standing alone as a Fat Duck dish, some lack impact (you get used to a lot by cooking from this book). The exception to me are the aerated chocolates, reducing me to a happy-go-lucky-10-year-old-boy (really considering giving them another go to do the justice after complete failure). The coconut baccy didn’t have the same effect, but nonetheless is one of the better petit fours. The smoky, tobacco flavor works really well with the coconut and the caramel flavor. Just really delicious. Nothing more, but also nothing less than delicious.
Must say I think I have been too harsh on the Coconut Baccy. After taking a few bites each day for a week and giving it to others I must say I came to love it. The Cavendish tobacco works really well with the caramel and coconut flavor. Definitely on par with the aerated chocolates.