Liquid Parmesan Gnocchi and Mushroom Infusion
Molecular gastronomy Chef Jordi Cruz demonstrates a creative use of spherification to separate two broths in one delicate dish. This modernist dish consists of spherified liquid Parmesan that remind us of a gnocchi, with a vegetable and mushroom infusion lightly acidulated with lemongrass, plus fresh mushrooms, summer truffles and nothing else, very simple.
"I am a very 'liquid' chef" says Chef Jordi Cruz. "I really like making good consommés, broths and sauces. What you cannot make is two broths in one broth. In this case you have a Parmesan cheese infusion and a mushroom broth. You can taste the mushroom broth with a hint of lemongrass and the Parmesan separately."
Both liquids are kept separate thanks to the spherification technique and as you break the sphere in the mouth you can taste both separately until they mix for a combined flavor. "This is for me the great use of spherification, to separate two liquids in one liquid and that you can dissociate both in the mouth." explains Chef Jordi.
The Creative Process of the Liquid Parmesan Gnocchi
Chef Jordi explains the creative process behind this incredible dish. "For the Parmesan Gnocchi, the creative process was long. Many years ago we invented a technique called cryofiltration. We froze goat juices in ice cream buckets and then we let it thaw in the fridge. We saw it would separate in two parts, one cloudy and one very clear. We then realized freezing was a good technique to filter broths and we started trying with everything. We created a mushroom juice with fresh mushrooms, chicken stock, butter and cream resulting in a very flavorful mushroom cream. When we froze it and let it thaw over a cloth with about 400 microns, we obtained a very nice and clear mushroom consommé. This is what we now use in the Parmesan Gnocchi." Chef Jordi says with passion.
This cryofiltering technique is also great to make apple juice that doesn’t oxidize, according to Chef Jordi. He told us to freeze green apple cut in pieces and thaw it using this method. He has tried cryofiltering everything but has kept what he liked the most such as this mushroom consommé, grape juice with Kefir, gazpacho and pepper water.
Going back to the dish, we now know how he came up with the main component, the mushroom infusion. But how did he come up with the other components? Why add liquid Parmesan cheese as the main pairing flavor? Chef Jordi explains: "Because they are both warm ingredients and the most flavorful forms of Parmesan cheese are solid and liquid. So we decided to use liquid encased in a sphere."
The third flavor he introduced to the dish was lemongrass and this is why. "A few years ago we started to think like Japanese chefs. We normally combine flavors in two ways, for example asparagus with ham or melon with ham. Japanese triangle flavors. There is a principal flavor, one that pairs and a third mysterious ingredient that is a tip of flavor. You may not even realize that the flavor is there but it completes the dish. In this case, mushrooms, Parmesan and lemongrass. Where the lemongrass came from? Once in a French restaurant, I tried a delicious ravioli with butter, citrus and truffle. I love lemongrass so that was going to be the citrus in my dish. Similar but different." He finally added the garnishes: fresh shaved truffles, walnuts, rosemary and arugula flowers.
Smooth and light, the cheesy, pungent flavor of the Parmesan spheres contrasts nicely with the earthy flavor of the mushrooms. The lemongrass adds just enough freshness to balance the dish, and the richness of the shaved truffles lends a final dimension to the infusion that sets it apart from anything else you’ve ever eaten. You’re gonna love this starter!
Whether you’re watching MasterChef España or asking a local Barcelonian where to find a great meal, Chef Jordi Cruz’s name is sure to pop up. The young chef has already earned two Michelin stars and is chef-owner of two award-winning restaurants. This recipe comes from his modernist restaurant ABaC in Barcelona, and is part of the tasting menu.
Thanks, Chef Jordi, for generously sharing your time and your creativity!
About 5 servings.
Parmesan Spheres Ingredients
- 0.75l (25.36oz) mineral water
- 3.75g (0.13oz) Sodium Alginate
- 250ml (8.33oz) Mineral Water
- 250g (8.82oz) Parmesan Cheese
- 30g (1.06oz) Mascarpone cheese
- 2.5g (0.09oz) Calcium Lactate Gluconate
Fragrant Mushroom Consommé Ingredients
- 0.75l (25.36oz) roast chicken broth
- 200g (7.06oz) frozen porcini mushrooms
- 50g (1.76oz) minced chives
- 25g (0.88oz) chopped shallots
- 50g (1.76oz) Butter
- 25g (0.88oz) fresh cream
- salt and white pepper to taste
- 1 stalk lemongrass for every 200 ml of mushroom consommé
- 75g (2.65oz) fresh mushrooms (Champignons, Amanita)
- Salt and white pepper
- Mushrooms of the highest quality to be consumed raw (Champignons, Amanita)
- Olive oil
- 15 walnut halves, cut into large chunks
- Several rosemary and arugula flowers
- Fresh truffle, sliced thinly (Tuber Aestivium, Melanosporum or Magnatum Stang)
- Olive oil
Parmesan Cheese Spheres Preparation
If this is your first time doing Reverse Spherification, you may want to read this first: Reverse Spherification Lesson
1 - First, make the sodium alginate bath, mixing half of the water with the sodium alginate and mixing with a blender until the alginate is fully integrated, add the remaining water and store covered in the fridge for a minimum of 12 hours to remove the air bubbles.
2 - Grate the Parmesan cheese very finely and add to boiling water.
3 - Let it infuse covered for 30 minutes and pass through a fine sieve.
4 - Add the remaining ingredients and let the mixture cool in the fridge.
5 - To make the spheres, use a teaspoon to drop small amounts (about 2.5ml) of the cheese mixture into the alginate bath.
7 - Transfer spheres to a bath of mineral water to remove traces of alginate.
8 - Remove the spheres with a perforated spoon and store them in mild olive oil.
9 - Prior to serving, heat spheres in oil at 65°C (149°F) for 5 to 10 minutes.
Fragrant Mushroom Consommé Preparation
1 - Separate the stems and caps of the frozen mushrooms.
2 - Using a peeler, peel the stems of the mushrooms.
3 - Put two liters of water to boil with a 5% salt solution (100g salt).
4 - Scald the stems of the mushrooms for 5 seconds and then add the caps.
5 - Cool in ice water.
6 - Dice mushrooms into cubes of 1 to 2cm (about 1/2 inch).
7 - Poach onions in 10g (0.35oz) of butter.
8 - In another pan, brown diced, well-drained mushrooms until they turn a nice color.
9 - Add onions and poach with broth.
10 - Cook for 5 minutes and add the cream and butter.
11 - Mix in a food processor until creamy.
12 - To cool, freeze in vacuum bags forming slabs of 1 cm (about ½ inch) thick.
13 - The night before using the consommé, defrost the frozen mushroom mix in the fridge. Cover a perforated pan with several layers of cheesecloth, place the frozen mushroom slabs on it and collect the consomme in the bottom pan as it slowly thaws in the fridge. Cover the perforated pan to protect the consommé from other odors in the fridge or get dirty.
14 - Boil the collected consommé, season with salt and add the chopped lemongrass.
15 - Allow to infuse for 5 to 10 minutes and strain.
16 - Before serving, bring back to a boil quickly.
Cooked Mushroom Preparation
1 - Clean the mushrooms using minimum water.
2 - Cut into 1.5 cm pieces (0.6 in).
3 - Sautee the mushrooms with the butter until tender.
4- Season with salt and serve immediately.
Fresh Mushroom Preparation
1- Clean the mushrooms and peel them if necessary.
2- Slice into very thin slices with the help of a mandolin or deli slicer.
3- Season with salt and olive oil.
1 - In a soup bowl or hot cocotte, place 5 to 6 Parmesan spheres.
2 - Add a couple of walnut chunks.
3 - Add two tablespoons of sauteed mushrooms.
4 - Add a few slices of raw mushrooms, elegantly placed.
5 - Finish by adding a few tablespoons of fragrant mushroom broth.
6 - Garnish with flowers, a drizzle of oil, and several freshly sliced truffle flakes.
7 - Serve immediately. You can also plate everything except for the consomme and add it at the table.