Molecular Cuisine: research and innovation

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Ettore Bocchia’ s research work, conducted in collaboration with the Physics Department of the University of Parma and more recently the Chemistry Department of the University of Ferrara, enhanced his skills in traditional cuisine techniques but also enabled him to innovate either through new cooking techniques or through novel use of known ingredients.

Low temperature cooking is the key to keep the texture of foods intact and at the same time enhance taste. Eggs are perfectly cooked at 65°: the eggs’ white is perfectly curdled as it melts in the mouth while the lecithins of the yolk hold it together. Vegetables keep their chlorophyll, thus keeping the taste fresh and the colours intact. The hemoglobine in meats does not coagulate while fats melt perfectly in the mouth, carrying all the flavours and keeping the texture softer.

Soy lecithin is used to replace the egg’s yolk in many recipes because it’s an amphiphilic molecule**. In addition to advantages for the health, its presence in recipes introduces new flavours, such as warm mayonnaise.

 

 
**Amphiphilic means ”loving both”. One end of the molecule is hydrophilic (ie, water loving, polar) and the other is hydrophobic (“water hating”, nonpolar).

Starch: Their composition keeps unaltered the aroma of vegetables as well as their high capacity for melting in the mouth

Fructose replaces saccharin not only for the known benefits to the health but also to innovate with new recipes, such as the new Italian meringue, with 50% water, that can be flavoured with anything (mint in this menu). Its fine molecular chain stabilizes the proteins of the egg’s white.

Cooling with liquid nitrogen: Its fast cooling properties (thanks to its temperature of -195,8°) creates micro-crystals in the structure of the solids that are much smaller than in ice cream cooled with traditional methods,. The ice cream cooled with liquid nitrogen is much more creamy and does not freeze the mouth, thus ebnablig the mouth to appreciate the full flavour of its ingredients .

Inuline: Recent research done by Ettore Bocchia with Vincenzo Brandolini (of Ferrara University) introduced this interesting molecule in the kitchen. It’s a sugar behaving like a fat. It can be extracted from lettuce, and in this case it has a neutral colour and flavour, or from dahlias, in which case it is brown and has a flowery flavour, and was so far only used for its medicinal qualities. For the first time a special chocolate mousse prepared using inuline instead of cream or eggs is presented in this menu. Chocolate’s flavour is enhanced as it is the only aromatic ingredient of this light mousse.

The leitmotiv of Bocchia’s cuisine is his love for raw materials and his purpose of constantly enhancing their raw flavours. Beyond any scientific research, the final judgement rests with the pleasure in the mouth.