I recently described a method for making an extremely light foam, known as an ‘air’, using soy lecithin. In that post it was used to create a lemon/lime air to drape over chicken – lemon chicken. Ferran Adria pioneered this technique, and has applied it in many interesting ways. Perhaps the purest idea is Salt Air – nothing more than salted water bubbles. An interesting way to add salt to a dish. Here it has been used to add salt to a Margarita.
The Salt Air is so soft and unexpected – a delight really. I am sure it would make you smile if you tried it. I mention this because soy lecithin can usually be found in health food stores, or it is easy enough to buy online. There are no other ingredients, so it really is something you could try. To 500g water, add 70g salt and 1.8g lecithin. Don’t be too fussed if the scales are only to 1g accuracy, 2g is fine. Don’t be tempted to add too much though, it works against foaming when concentrations rise too much. The method is in my previous post.
Alternatively, Ferran suggests freezing the margarita mix and creating a sorbet for another textural contrast. I settled for a granita.
It is still a Margarita, with all the classic flavour components – but nothing like you might expect. The unexpected is part of Ferran’s armoury. He also serves it not in a glass, but a hollowed out ice cube.
With winter approaching here, oysters are reaching their prime. How nice to add a bit of salt air to an oyster in its half-shell. Ferran makes a spherified pearl to serve in the shell with the oyster, dusted with silver powder to look whimsically like the real thing.
It is one of natures big mistakes that oysters are best in winter months, but more appealing on a warm sunny day. In summer they are breeding, and they are of a lesser quality.
PS: Ferran Adria is synonymous with modern haute cuisine. The restaurant he headed, El Bulli, was located in a picturesque but largely inaccessible part of the Spanish Costa-Brava. So inaccessible, in fact, that it could not be reached in winter as the roads were un-passable. Thus he closed his restaurant for 6 months of the year, and his team transferred to Barcelona and just created. They were prolific and their creations were utterly original and unexpected.
The restaurant could accept only 8,000 diners each season, but received over 2 million requests annually for reservations. Only lunch was served, there was no menu, meals lasted around 6 hours and involved 40-50 little courses, each spectacular and exquisite. His work has received every accolade possible, multiple times. The restaurant never made a profit, despite charging ~USD350 a head. It was subsidised by other business interests.
To everyones dismay, he closed the restaurant in 2011, when it was still at its height. Ferran is now establishing an El Bulli foundation to safeguard the legacy of El Bulli, to archive and classify the history of cooking, and to provide a creative environment for chefs worldwide.