Modern Gastronomy is more popular than ever. In this post, I’ve got a simple and versatile recipe that will let you turn juices and/or purees into tiny little pearled ‘caviar’. It takes no time at all and is sure to impress.
In the photo above I used Beet ‘Caviar’ to garnish a Sweet Potato Chip Canapé with Crème Fraîche and Dill. As you can see, the clear spheres really pickup ambient light and give the appearance true of roe.
A note on Ingredients:
- The juices of a fruit or vegetable. I recommend using Freshly Squeezes Juices. Commercial juices usually contain minimal flavour and lots of sugar. Fresh juices are readily available at health grocery stores. In Toronto, The Big Carrot or St Lawrence Market are both good places to check out.
- Agar is a gelatinous substance. It acts similarly to gelatine, although it’s made from algae and is completely vegan. Interestingly, it also will remain in a gel state at room temperature as it solidifies around 32C. It makes a great garnish that won’t bleed onto other food. Agar can be purchased at most Asian grocery stores in the dessert section. Sometimes sold in soft strips that dissolve in warm liquids or as a powder. The powdered version is often sold as a dessert, and will usually contain excess sugar. Check the packaging before you add any more sugar.
A note on Equipment:
- You will need a Squeeze Bottle of some kind. Ideally, one with a fine tip. These bottles can be purchased for a couple dollar from a restaurant supply store like Nella in Toronto.
- A Fine Mesh Strainer is a kitchen essential. You likely have one. If not, they can also be found in any restaurant supply store. You don’t need an expensive one.
2g Powdered Agar
200ml Juice/Fruit Puree
50ml Water(only if using Fruit Purée)
400ml Vegetable Oil
Salt/Sugar to taste.
1. Pour the vegtable oil into a container that will fit in your freezer. Chill for an hour. If your making a large batch, you can use a salted ice bath for your oil container to maintain a low temperature.
2. Bring your Juice to a boil. For extra flavour, you can use 400ml of juice and reduce it down to 200ml. This makes for a more flavourful ‘Caviar’.
3. Whisk in your Agar. Adjust your the flavour of the mixture using sugar, salt and/or acid(lemon juice or vinegar) to taste. Note: High acid can affect the gelatinous properties of Agar, if this is your first attempt, I would omit any acid at all and use a relatively neutral juice. Try Carrot, Beet, Cucumber, Cranberry or Raspberry Purée.
4. Pour the Caviar liquid into your bottle. Let it cool slightly, until you are able to handle the bottle.
5. Slowly drizzle the Agar liquid in a circular motion into the cold oil from the freezer. With some practice, you’ll be able to produce a consistent shape. If you’re making a large batch, you may need to let the oil temperature drop back down in the freezer. Be aware, your Agar mixture will begin to solidify when it hits 32C. However, it needs to be brought back up to 85C to liquify. To do this, immerse the bottle in a small pot of boiling water.
6. Once you’ve ‘spherified’ your ‘Caviar’, pour the oil and ‘Caviar’ through a Fine Mesh Strainer. Discard the oil. Run the Caviar under tepid water to remove excess oil. If the water is too cool, the oil won’t wash off.
Try this recipe out. It’s a pretty cool effect. It can add an interesting, refined element to a plate that may have otherwise looked drab. I’d love to hear what flavours you’ve used and how you used them. Please, leave a comment if you have any questions.
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