16 January 2011

Foam on the sea

I'm so happy—I think I've cracked the solution to presenting a stabler foam with my lobster bisque. It could still do with a some refinement, but I think I'm finally understanding the principles of structure.

The whole idea of intense pure flavour in floating lightly on the dish as an evanescent foam appeals to me, it is so appropriate for our sultry Caribbean weather.

This is a lobster and mango salad presentation: whole Maine lobster tails poached lightly in coconut milk, shallots, fennel, celery, ginger and dry vermouth. I eased each fat tail out of its shell, cooled them and sliced them into medallions for the salad. Then I returned the shells to the poaching liquid and continued the stockmaking till the liquid could absorb no more flavour.

The base is the lobster stock from the shells, infused with fresh ginger. I reduced that to half the volume and added some creamy coconut milk and the barest hint of lime. It is as pale as foam on the sea without the addition of saffron threads or tomato!

The first treatment I tried: no stabiliser, just 250 mls of reduction in the ISI whip charged with one nitrous oxide capsule.

lobster espuma | sans stabliser I

The dense mousse-like texture degraded quickly into a more open foam as we served it, as seen below.

lobster espuma | sans stabiliser II

For my second try, I used the same base but this time I whirred 1/2 teaspoon of lecithin granules with 250 mls of the base using an stick immersion blender in place of the ISI whip.

lobster espuma | immersion lobster espuma | lecithin

The foam that collected on the surface was light, with large frothy open bubbles that remained stable for presentation. I did notice that halfway through consumption, the foam had begun to dissolve back into liquid at the bottom of the martini glasses.

lobster espuma | plus stabliser I
Salade d'homard et sa ècume

This time, I presented the Maine lobster tails as retro-kitsch 1970s avocado cocktail salad.

lobster espuma | plus stabliser II

I may try next time to thicken the reduction a little with a liaision to see if the yolks and cream might give a little more protein structure, and compare that to thickening with a standard roux.

I am having so much fun playing around with this! Next stop—xanthan gum...


  1. watch out with xanthan. a little goes a long way, and it sticks on whatever utensil you use to blend it in... Annoying as hell. I use it to stabilise gelato. It helps reduce ice crystals because it increases the solid content. I used too much once... let's just say the effect on the digestive system was like having 30 coffees or so... :)

  2. O_o


    Thanks so much for the word of caution!

    The xanthan experimenting might have to happen inbetween charters rather than on-charter!


about this blog

Occasional vignettes from the life of a charter chef who loves simply messing about on boats.

"I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brains and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world."
MFK Fisher


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