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The second half of the seventeen course feast prepared by former head chef of the Modernist Cuisine Cooking Lab, Maxime Bilet, featured local and seasonal Pacific Northeast seafood and meat. You have to love a dinner that ends with two desserts and olive oil gummy worms.
Squid and Uni Salad
Crispy squid jerky, Mapp flame, Thai flavors: The Modernist Cuisine lab dehydrated squid strands mixed with fish sauce, then they placed them on a disc of creamy uni (sea urchin), garnished with cilantro. 100% umami.
Spaghetti alle Vongole
Taylor’s geoduck, vacuum-molded, centrifuged broth Geoduck, pronounced “gooey duck,” is a soft-shelled clam native to the Pacific Northwest. It is very much not a duck. It buries itself in sand and lives, potentially, for over 100 years. The geoduck season is short, making this phallic bivalve expensive. Raw or gently steamed, this slightly sweet clam’s mantle is crunchy while its shaft snaps more softly between your teeth like al dente pasta. Chef Sam Fahey-Burke removed the geoduck skin with a kitchen torch, vacuum-sealed the shaft in plastic, pounded it thin, then sliced it into long, flexible “noodles.” He warmed them in a combi oven and served them, twirled like spaghetti, on top of diced mantle with shallots and garlic confit, all drowned in a rich bagna cauda of centrifuged seafood broth.
Raw Quail Egg
A touch of protein to invigorate the appetite The egg “yolk” and “white” in this dish are vegan, though the carefully cut quail shell is real. To make these, passionfruit juice mixed with ascorbic acid and orange essence is dropped by the teaspoonful into a mix of calcium chloride and sodium alginate, creating an yolk-like skin.
Foamy spiced nut and seed butter, wild greens Salt and sugar-brined local, sustainable salmon was cooked sous vide then basted in buttery olive oil seasoned with toasted macadamia nuts, ginger, chamomile blossoms, coriander, white poppy and sesame seeds. Bitter purslane and baby bok choy balance the savoury-sweetness of the fish.
Combi oven, constructed jus gras, garlic confit and herb salad, Vin Jaune The combi oven here acts like a wet sauna, forcing the chicken’s juices to remain in the chicken rather than evaporating, and resulting in moister meat. Injecting the chicken thighs and breasts with brine, repeatedly blanching and cooling to tighten the skin, and hanging in a refrigerator overnight à la crispy Chinese Peking seem like gluttonous overkill. After a quick broil in the combi the skin shattered like fine glass around the tender meat into a pool of the chicken’s silken, reduced juices.
72 H sous vide, MC sauerkraut, Oregon wasabi The Modernist Cuisine lab owns a Carolina BBQ competition smoker. They smoked the brined meat for four hours and cooked it sous vide for three days before plating it with lab-made Sauerkraut, sweet-and-sour Brussels sprout leaves, pickled mustard seeds and local wasabi root.
Vacuum infusion, modernist sorbet, candied white beans Vacuum-infused blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and plums paired with candied celery and cannellini beans, translucent cucumber slices, rhubarb jellies, and a quenelle of Pacojetized cucumber sorbet in this refreshing dish. It took two hours and more than 10 cups of syrup to infuse the beans, boundless patience to slice and roll the cucumber, and less than a minute to enjoy the sweet-savoury, soft-crunchy, warm-cold soup.
Constructed cream, berries One of the lab’s most popular recipes, this creamy, dairy-free gelato was made with homogenized pistachios and pistachio oil sweetened with sugar and thickened with lambda carageenan and locust bean. The thickeners replace the egg yolks of a traditional gelato. They served it on a bed of amarena cherries soaked in brandy with pistachio crumble. Ah, la dolce vita.
High-fat gel, shaped in fish-lure molds Iso-malt, gum Arabic, and thyme essential oil put this recipe somewhere between a science experiment and a snack. To make them you’ll need fishing lures from a sporting goods store, but it’ll be worth it when these wriggly worms specked with vanilla flakes go down sweet and easy.
Chef Johnny Zhu of the Modernist Cuisine lab with his 3-year old son/future Development Chef making modernist “gummy worms and dirt.”