THE SCIENCE OF COOKING
THE LAB HAS ENTERED THE KITCHEN IN RESTAURANTS ALL OVER THE GLOBE
Sous-vide In this French technique, food is vacuum-sealed in a plastic pouch and placed in a water bath for up to 48 hours at a low temperature, ensuring it’s evenly cooked and retains moisture. It’s then seared in a pan to create a char and add flavour.
Molecular gastronomy The term was coined by physicist Nicholas Kurti and chemist Hervé This in 1988, but grew in the 1990s. It refers to using scientific techniques to transform food. From ice spheres to the famous liquid olives at El Bulli, the possibilities are endless.
Freeze-drying Products can be stored for up to 30 years and still hold 97 per cent of their nutritional value. They are rapidly frozen, placed in a vacuum chamber to evaporate the water and sealed with nitrogen to preserve their taste, texture and colour.
Liquid nitrogen In its liquid form, this natural gas has a boiling point of -196C. It flash-freezes food as soon as it touches it, and at room temperature becomes a gas again, creating the theatre that helped bring Heston Blumenthal (above) to fame.
Centrifuge These scientific devices whirl extremely quickly, generating forces 30,000 times as strong as gravity. Chefs use them to separate sauces: extracting the oil from a purée takes days under natural gravity, but finishes in minutes with these.