When our friends asked if we were keen to try out a cooking or demo session at their newly opened ToTT
which stands for Tools of Trade by the way, we agreed immediately. Coincidentally, there was a demonstration by Chef Stephan Zoisl on The Science of Cooking - Dehydrating and Espuma. If you remember the entry
that I wrote on Moto several weeks back, you will recall that it was a unique molecular gastronomy experience and it included this whole fancy presentation of nitrogen infused food all presented in the most unexpected and imaginable ways possible. This particular demo by Chef Stephan covered a portion of it and it was great to take a look behind the scenes of how it is all done.
Chef Stephan is the Executive Head Chef of the Novus Restaurant, Bar, Cafe and Courtyard at the Singapore Museum. He originates from Austria and his resume includes stints with some of the world's best restaurants including The Fat Duck and several other Michelin Star restaurants. His cooking philosophy is to "keep it pure and simple, and always use the freshest ingredients and product." For his demo, he brought along a crate of special tomatoes all the way from France and I heard that it cost SGD$80!
Chef Stephan went into great details on how dehydrating of food and espuma works to produce interesting presentation of food of varying textures and forms. We learned how to cook tender meats using a sous vide which I've mentioned countless times that I want to get one now, and how to create espuma (foam) of any kinds of foods for example tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate. Why make something into a foam? To create a different texture and experience for the diner.
We sampled 3 dishes. The first was the Heirloom tomatoes which had an interesting mixture of flavors and textures. I felt that it needed more oomph in the dressing though it was very obvious that the ingredients were 100% fresh. The dehydrated melons were refreshing. Utterly sweet and crunchy. My favorite part of the salad was the mozzarella spheres. The cheese was melted and the hot liquid poured into the Xanthan liquid. A thin film formed around it created a spherical cheese ball. When you put the delicate sphere into your mouth, it bursts immediately and it was quite a treat.
The next dish was the 48H pork belly. I'm not a fan of pork belly as I cannot tolerate pork that tastes too porky. However, this tasted like a wagyu version of pork. The meat was tender and it melts in your mouth. All the natural juices of the meat were sealed in from the sous vide process and I don't know how to really describe it, but I've to admit that I'm sold on this new method of cooking.
Dessert is my favorite and it's quite easy to impress me :P I love how Chef Stephan uses colors a lot to spice up the appearance of a dish and to make it more appetizing. The chocolate espuma was scrummy akin to fluffy chocolate mousse. Paired together with the pistachio ice cream, dehydrated chocolate crumbs and berries, it was a nice round up of the tasting session.
I won't be able to re-create the dishes without the equipment so it's not cooking that anyone can do as you'll need those tools in order to do so easily. But it was definitely an eye-opener and we were even provided with detailed recipes so that we could try them out if we wanted to do so.
I learnt a couple of interesting tips during the demonstration -
1) The leaves of celery that is usually discarded actually contains the most flavor compared to the more commonly used stalks.
2) Buffalo mozzarella has a saltier and is more flavorful compared to regular mozzarella which is from cow's milk.
3) Xanthan is a neutral binding agent that thickens liquids and works similar to cornflour but without the added taste.
4) A siphon and No2 gas cartridges are required to create an espuma or foam - it was used extensively at Moto.
5) Brine is a good soaking liquid if you want to infuse your meats with flavors and the reason why brine water is used in a sous vide.
5) Nitrate salt is the purest form of salt and is used in the brine solution however humans cannot eat it straight as you'll die from dehydration as it is so concentrated! After soaking the pork in brine, you'll need to rinse it out for a few hours.
6) It is possible to poach an egg, in its shell. No kidding. All you need is to chuck it into a sous vide for 30 minutes at 64 degrees celsius.
7) Mashed potatoes is not the creamiest form but a potato espuma! Mixed with cheese, butter, milk and cheese, the product is ohmygoodness goddamn delicious!
8) It is possible to make a sponge cake.. in a minute. Made possible with a siphon and a microwave oven.
Now do you know why I want a sous vide and a siphon?
After the class, we took a tour around ToTT so for those that wonder what ToTT is all about, you can have a mini tour by looking at my photos.
You can find kitchen ware of all types. The range is massive. It's like a toy store for people who love to cook. I'm not that big of a cook myself but I was really excited running around the store, checking out all the cool crockery and pans. A picture speaks a thousand words so I'll stop rambling on and just let you see the photos.
If you are interested in similar classes or just classes on how to cook Indian food or salad dressings for example, check out the wide range of classes available at the website. ToTT Store
896 Dunearn Road
+(65) 6314 7077
cookebakehost[at]tottstore[dot]com( Collapse )