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Sound of the Sea
Specialty Equipment: water bath, vacuum machine, thermometer
Specialty Ingredients: soya lecithin, sodium caseinate, N-Zorbit M maltodextrin, blue shimmer powder, brown carbonized vegetable powder
Days: 3 (1 month when making the ponzu)
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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The final dish. I think I’ve easily spent the most time on this dish. Obtaining some of the ingredients was pretty difficult. I say ‘obtaining’, but ‘trying to obtain’ are better words to describe what I did. Cooking the dish itself is actually not that hard, but the thing is in freaking Japanese: thin mouth soy sauce, rishiri-kombu, cod liver oil, shirasu, N-Zorbit M tapioca maltodextrin, blue shimmer powder, brown carbonized vegetable powder, dried dulse seaweed, dried hijiki seaweed, tamari soy sauce, Japanese lily bulb, dried wakame seaweed, shiro shoyu, fresh Codium seaweed, fresh yuzu, fresh sudachi, katsuo bushi, soya lecithin, sodium caseinate. WWWWW-What?!!!

In the end I got to grips with the ingredients, but was not able to get every one. I hope thou can forgive me. Here’s a list of the harder-to-find/possibly unfamiliar ingredients and where you can get them if you were so inclined:

Dried dulse seawead / dried hijiki seaweed / dried wakame seaweed – Almost every Japanese store sells them, although I never encountered dried dulse seaweed and dried it myself.

Fresh Codium seaweed – This was in the end not too hard to find. Two fishmongers could order it, but they both had a minimum order of 1kg, costing 45€. I couldn’t find a store selling it in smaller quantities, so to keep the costs down (and not tip the scale to having been able to eat the tasting menu at The Fat Duck from the combined costs of this recipe) I skipped this type of seaweed.

Thin mouth soy sauce (usu kuchi shoyu) / tamari soy sauce / white soy sauce (shiro shoyu) – The first two are sold by Japanese stores, but the white soy sauce may be a bit harder to find. I’ve dedicated, all in all, days trying to find some. I went online (the ones that sold it didn’t send it overseas), to Japanese stores, restaurants and more. I’m still pretty pissed off thinking about it. I won’t rest until I have some in my possession, although I might not have any need for it anymore.

Rishiri-kombu – Kombu, the Japanese kelp used in dashi, is sold everywhere. There are however a number of varieties and must say I’ve never found rishiri-kombu. In one Japanese store I found almost all the varieties, but they didn’t sold the rishiri one. I used kombu labeled as ‘dashi kombu’.

Japanese lily bulb – I was mislead by the word ‘Japanese’. In fact the Chinese adore the stuff and you can find it in Chinese stores, sold as ‘fresh lily bulbs’. It is tasty as hell by the way.

Shirasu – Almost every Oriental store sells these baby anchovies in the refrigerated section.

N-Zorbit M tapioca maltodextrin – National Food and Starch sends out samples (thanks you guys!).

Blue shimmer powder – Not too sure what it is, but Mandy pointed me to edible glitter and it seems to be the same product. It is sold everywhere. I got it at Ebay, but the weather was not playing along. We’ve been seeing snow and frost like nothing before in early December here in Western Europe. It has affected air traffic, which means my blue shimmer powder is still in the mail.

Brown carbonized vegetable powder – Your guess is as good as mine.

Soya lecithin / sodium caseinate – The first is sold everywhere. I skipped the second powder because it is a foam stabilizer and found that at home it is not really necessary (see the Anjou pigeon dish). If you do want to get it check Ebay for ‘casein’.

So, with almost all the ingredients and some understanding of them all I started with the recipe. I made the ponzu 1 month before finishing the dish. It is made from sake, fresh yuzu, fresh sudachi, mirin, rice wine vinegar, tamari soy sauce, thin mouth soy sauce, katsuo bushi and rishiri-kombu. I substituted the citrus fruits with fresh lime and store bought yuzu juice.

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Mandarin Aerated Chocolate
Specialty Equipment: water bath, vacuum machine, thermometer, moulds
Specialty Ingredients: mandarin essential oil, cacao butter, yellow pectin
, tartaric acid, glucose
Days: 1
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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Mandarin Aerated Chocolate attempt #1 ended in tears. It’s the only recipe I had to make a second time (although I have to refrain myself from redoing the first half of the posts), to look back without any regrets. I also just wanted chocolate to work with me for once in my life. No rest for the chocolate fuck-ups.

I reread the comments on some of my posts and decided to ditch the water bath altogether. Instead I opted for an au-bain marie and, thanks to a very handy tip from Mitchell, a hair dryer as weapons of choice. To melt all the crystals I heated the chocolate to 54˚C, as instructed in the book (where they use a water bath).

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All the white powders are only one part of the ingredients needed for the recipes of this book (see here where I got them). There is also the more traditional food fare: meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and many more. Regarding these type of food I feel really lucky with the stores in close proximity to me. You have a number of wholesalers in southeast Amsterdam with great produce. Walking these wholesalers I feel like a kid in a sweet shop. Quality cheeses, poultry, game, meat, fish, shellfish, vegetables, dried products, oils, vinegars, chocolate, it’s all there. On the top of my list is the chain Hanos, reminiscent of quality indoor markets in France. It sells lobsters, hand-dived scallops, Bresse chickens, Anjou pigeons, Livar pork, Iberico pork, baby vegetables, Valrhona chocolate, the products from Texturas and Sosa and all the stuff you’re not yet aware you’re going to need. Countless times I was in need of something, often sold solely in upscale specialty stores, and ended up scooping it up at Hanos. In the end it saved me a whole lot of trouble hunting down ingredients in places all over Amsterdam.

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Coconut Baccy
Specialty Equipment: refractometer
Specialty Ingredients: glucose, glycerine, teenage coconuts
Days: 7
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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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:

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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)

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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.

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Ice-Filtered Lamb Jelly, Braised Lamb Tongue and Cucumber Salad, Best End of Lamb, Onion and Thyme Fluid Gel, Hotpot with Sweetbread and Oyster
Specialty Equipment: pressure cooker, water bath, vacuum machine, digital thermometer
Specialty Ingredients: gellan F, nitrite salt, gelatine 170 Bloom, patience
Days: 5
Dish as in The Fat Duck*:

* I think the little meat/potatoe part of the first photo is a miniature hotpot, so the separate hotpot dish is either dropped or added to the dish.

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‘Hello, this is a report of my quest to tackle the Big Fat Duck Cookbook. The horror!!!’ I wrote this back when I just started the blog without any Fat Duck dishes under my belt. Looking back I was clueless when I put the words online, and must say the horror manifested itself in areas you might overlook. The hunt for ingredients, the planning of dishes to be able to regularly update, to the photographing and sorting of photos and writing it all down step for step. Cooking dishes on the other hand, with all the other stuff taken care of, was, for the most part, not a horrific endeavor, with a few exceptions. This lamb dish is one of those exceptions, the cooking requiring a level of patience I’ve not encountered before. It may be thé Crazy Ass Recipe of the book. Three stocks, lots of brining, multiple days of cooking of several items, ice filtration, a fluid gel, surgical precision, difficult to understand instructions and more.

I had a hunch about the craziness of this dish and it is probably the reason I put off making it until I had no choice. The funny thing it is one of the most classical recipes of the book. A rack of lamb, a hotpot and a classic jellied stock (aspic) are, as noted in the introduction, classics. Cooking the components require not so classical methods though. For me another example to counter ‘foam arguments’ (know what I mean?) against modern cuisine or molecular gastronomy if you insist to call it that. Here techniques are used to update or improve preparation methods like braising, roasting, making a puree and making a stock. I really can’t do anything else than say that, for instance, tongue cooked for 2 days is like nothing else. Absolutely incredible. Or that an onion fluid gel, dressing up as a puree, is so tasty, smooth and explosive I wonder if a classic onion puree could ever come close.

Oh, I have these moments I start to ramble on and forget the post still has 40 photos to go with accompanying text. Back to the main subject of the recipe: lamb. You have to use a variety of lamb cuts for this dish: neck, tongue, shoulder, rack, sweetbread and bones. A lamb extravaganza! I started with all the stock components of the dish, which include a sauce, a consommé and a braising liquid for the potatoes.

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Vegetarian Pot au Feu, Heart of Palm Marrowbone
Specialty Equipment: pressure cooker
Specialty Ingredients: National Starch Flojel 60, T55 flour, fresh hearts of palm
Days: 1
Dish as in The Fat Duck (can’t find any photos of the dish as served in The Fat Duck):

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Freaking hearts of palm. I think the time spent trying to purchase some I could have cooked through another cookbook. I contacted local exotic food stores, local wholesalers, suppliers abroad and couldn’t get hold of them. I even scoured the freezer section of tons of stores in the hope they would have frozen hearts of palm, but in my experience it is either fresh or canned. At one time I thought I hit gold with a vegetable supplier of restaurants saying he could get them, but when I got them they turned out to be sugar canes instead of hearts of palm.

Canned. Blew. I hate I had to resort to the canned ones after failing to obtain the real, fresh deal. Fresh hearts of palm have never been on a plate before me, but I’m 100% sure the canned variety is very far removed from the former. The stalks are slim, already cooked and posses a generic canned taste. A bit like canned artichokes.

The thing is I didn’t really have an option to wait longer with this recipe. I’ve already made most of the lamb dish and had this dish in the freezer (made components a while ago when I thought I could get fresh hearts of palm), so the Big Fat Duck Cookbook is almost done. There was no time to wait for March or April, the months fresh hearts of palm are in season according to an importer here in Amsterdam. To summarize an elaborate introduction: I used canned hearts of palm.

In times with the prospect of fresh hearts of palm at my disposal I started with the vegetable consommé. It is made a bit like the one from the Gold, frankincense & Myhhr dish: vegetables cooked in beurre noisette, everything pressure-cooked and clarified. Two things about the stock. It uses A LOT of vegetables. Five kilos in total or 2½kg if cut in half. My pressure cooker has nothing to be ashamed of size wise, but it took some higher mathematics to fit all the vegetables in.

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Parsnip Cereal
Specialty Equipment: mandolin, dehydrator
Specialty Ingredients: none
Days: 1
Dish as in The Fat Duck:

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For some reason the parsnip cereal dish, a veteran of the tasting menu, is not included in the book. I thought it would be fun to try and recreate the dish without a recipe by my side and see what I would end up with. I was sure of two things. The cereal is made of pieces of dehydrated parsnip and the liquid is infused with parsnips.

For part one of the dish, the cereal, I flipped through the book and reread the dehydrated food items of a number of recipes, to guess which technique would be suitable for the parsnips. First I figured it would be best to use the technique of the beetroot discs of the Grapefruit Lolly recipe, because the boiled sugar could form a protective layer, keeping the cereal crunchy in a liquid. The problem is that last time it didn’t really work out, so I put aside the technique and settled on a good soak in a 50:50 sugar syrup.

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