With a week to go before my anxiously awaited Molecular Cooking class with Chef Michael Young, and my chance to finally meet Jo from My Last Bite and her husband Peter, I just couldn’t wait to try one more thing. It was going to drive me crazy all week if I didn’t at least break out the chemistry and attempt another amateur El Bulli-type dish.
So I re-read Jo’s first post on her class with Chef Young that started all of this madness, and her experience making Pea Ravioli with her nephew Cody. Along with the fruit caviar and carrot foam, this was one of those dishes I’ve always wanted to taste. And I purchased some fresh peas this week, so what did I have to lose?
I read her post and a few others online that also seemed to have been successful for them. I changed a few things from Jo’s recipe, scaled it down a bit and (because they seemed like good ideas) decided to use fresh peas instead of frozen, and use a blender on high speed to mix everything instead of my immersion blender.
I had plenty of time on my hands, so what the Hell, right?
To make the pea mixture, I used:
260 grams fresh peas
325 grams water
3 grams sodium alginate (approximately 1 tsp)
For the calcic bath:
750 grams ice cold water
5 grams calcium chloride (approximately 1 tsp)
To begin, I combined cold water and calcium chloride in a large bowl. This was whisked until the calcium chloride was dissolved, then stored in the refrigerator to keep it cold (the colder, the better).
I shelled my fresh peas until I’d collected 260 grams (about 1 1/2 cups). I brought 2 cups of salted water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, I added the peas, brought the water back to a boil and cooked for 4 minutes. I took the peas off the heat, drained them, then shocked immediately in an ice water bath for 5 minutes. This is the only way to keep the skins of the peas looking bright green. Otherwise, they’d continue to cook and turn grey.
Then I got to work on the algin solution. I added 325 grams of water and the sodium alginate, and blended with an immersion blender until the sodium alginate had completely dissolved in the water. Then I brought this to a light boil over high heat. I stirred it constantly. Once I let it go 15 seconds without stirring and I noticed it starting to stick. Once I got slow bubbles rolling, I removed it from the heat and allowed it to cool to room temperature.
Once the algin solution was cooled, I strained my cooked peas and added them to my blender. In went the algin solution and I blended it on the LIQUEFY setting until completely smooth.
Now I removed my chilled calcium chloride mixture from the fridge, scooped the pea mixture into a tablespoon measure, set the bottom of the tablespoon measure against the surface of the calcium chloride mixture, then poured the mixture in with a gentle turn of the wrist. Just like Jo said, it magically formed a skin the minute it hit the calcic bath.
The ravioli sat in the calcium chloride bath for two minutes, after which I used a slotted spoon to remove it, drained it as much as possible, and placed it in another bowl filled with cold water to rinse it for about 30 seconds.
I removed it from the rinse with the slotted spoon, tapped the bottom of the spoon dry on a clean towel, gently slid it into the serving spoon and topped with a few grains of Hawaiian sea salt.
Just as advertised, the pea puree is held together by a very thin membrane of it’s own. When you slide it into your mouth, it literally explodes pea puree as you crunch down on the tiny particles of sea salt. What an amazing trick. If you love the taste of fresh peas, you’ll want about 10 of these.
That should hold me over until our class next Sunday. I seriously can’t wait to learn more about this. With the right ingredients, patience, and (as Jo says) enthusiasm, it’s really not that hard to accomplish.
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