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Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking

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Published by ModernistCuisine
www.modernistcuisine.com. A revolution is underway in the art of cooking. Just as French Impressionists upended centuries of tradition, Modernist cuisine has in recent years blown through the boundaries of the culinary arts. Borrowing techniques from the laboratory, pioneering chefs at world-renowned restaurants such as elBulli, The Fat Duck, Alinea, and wd~50 have incorporated a deeper understanding of science and advances in cooking technology into their culinary art.

In Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet--scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right--have created a six-volume 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking.

Reviews
"This book will change the way we understand the kitchen." --Ferran Adrià

“The most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier.” --Tim Zagat

“The cookbook to end all cookbooks.” --David Chang

"A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastronomy." --Heston Blumenthal

"Amazing! Unparalleled in its breadth and depth." --Wylie Dufresne
www.modernistcuisine.com. A revolution is underway in the art of cooking. Just as French Impressionists upended centuries of tradition, Modernist cuisine has in recent years blown through the boundaries of the culinary arts. Borrowing techniques from the laboratory, pioneering chefs at world-renowned restaurants such as elBulli, The Fat Duck, Alinea, and wd~50 have incorporated a deeper understanding of science and advances in cooking technology into their culinary art.

In Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Nathan Myhrvold, Chris Young, and Maxime Bilet--scientists, inventors, and accomplished cooks in their own right--have created a six-volume 2,400-page set that reveals science-inspired techniques for preparing food that ranges from the otherworldly to the sublime. The authors and their 20-person team at The Cooking Lab have achieved astounding new flavors and textures by using tools such as water baths, homogenizers, centrifuges, and ingredients such as hydrocolloids, emulsifiers, and enzymes. It is a work destined to reinvent cooking.

Reviews
"This book will change the way we understand the kitchen." --Ferran Adrià

“The most important book in the culinary arts since Escoffier.” --Tim Zagat

“The cookbook to end all cookbooks.” --David Chang

"A fascinating overview of the techniques of modern gastronomy." --Heston Blumenthal

"Amazing! Unparalleled in its breadth and depth." --Wylie Dufresne

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Published by: ModernistCuisine on Aug 13, 2010
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05/31/2013

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Browse an booksore, online or brick-and-morar,and ou’ll nd a large selecion o culinar reer-ence books ha oer sep-b-sep insrucions orpreparing classic French cuisine. Man o hese books are wonderul, and we highl recommend anumber o hem or an cook’s librar. Unoru-nael, alhough hese exs oen encompassNouvelle and New Inernaional mehods, he include ew (i an) o he exciing new echniquesha have been developed in he las 30 ears.Man Modernis ches have writen heir own books, and hese generall do a grea job o elucidaing aspecs o each che’s personal culi-nar sle. Ches don’ usuall aspire o wrie a book ha is more comprehensive han heir own vision—aer all, a che operaing a resauranprobabl doesn’ have he ime o produce alengh reerence ex like hose ha exis orFrench cuisine. Ches are oo bus running heirkichens and creaing new dishes.In a sense, cookbook wriers ace similar barriers. Man o he greaes cookbooks are writen b people who wrie or a living, like Paula Woler, Paricia Wells, Michael Ruhlman, Mark Bitman, James Peerson, Wane Gisslen, anddozens o ohers. Auhors such as hese end no o wrie large-scale reerence books, which requirelarge sas working ull-ime or a mater o ears.For conex, consider ha he producion o heseve volumes required he combined eors o several dozen people over he span o hree ears.Ta level o eor is he norm or a major reer-ence work or college exbook. Resources on hisscale are generall no available o independenood wriers, however.O course, Julia Child is one noable excepiono his rule, bu she had wo coauhors, and evenhen, he underook an arduous nine-ear journe o he publicaion o 
 Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
In addiion, Child’s maserpiece was mosl ex—i originall conained nophoos and onl minimal illusraions. Ta kindo book worked in 1961, bu i wouldn’ be com-peiive in oda’s marke, where numerous visualelemens are expeced in a book o his size.Child’s sor is a cauionar ale o wriers who would atemp a book on a similar scale. Indeed,or people who wrie or a living, i makes moresense o publish less comprehensive, more special-ized cookbooks on a regular basis. Who, hen, would spend he ime, energ, andmone o creae a large-scale culinar reerence book? Cerainl no mainsream publishers, because such a book would be exremel expen-sive o produce and would no have an provenmarke. Who would be oolhard enough o seporward? We decided i would be us.Te origins o his book dae back o 2004, when I sared exploring and explaining sous videcuisine in eGulle’s online orums (see page 59). As a resul o ha experience, I resolved o wrie a book on sous vide. A he ime, here was no book in English abou he echnique, and he onl recen ex on he subjec was Joan Roca’s excel-len
Sous Vide Cuisine,
 which I sruggled hroughin Spanish (beore he English version came ouand beore Tomas Keller published his book 
Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide
). Tere wasclearl a need or a comprehensive book on sous vide in English, so I decided o wrie i.Bu as I worked on he book, I kep seeingreasons o expand is scope. Food sae is inri-cael linked o sous vide; misundersandingsabou he sae o he mehod have long preven-ed is widespread adopion. So, wih he help o several research assisans, I dug ino he scieniclieraure and discovered ha much o wha chesare old abou ood sae is wrong. Mosl i is wrong in a wa ha ruins he ase o ood wihouproviding an meaningul improvemen in sae.Someimes i is wrong in he oher direcion,producing resuls ha could be unsae. I becameclear o me ha cooks need some guidance.Tis idea was driven home when che SeanBrock conaced me or help convincing his localood inspecor ha i would be sae o serve oodprepared sous vide a his resauran, McCrad’s, inCharleson, Souh Carolina. A ew das laer, heood inspecor or ha area also conaced me. He was ascinaed b he daa I had passed along oBrock and waned o learn more. Brock goapproval o go ahead, and I resolved ha m book  would cover microbiolog and ood sae as wellas he core aspecs o sous vide echniques.
HE SORy OF HIS BOO
The creaton o ths book requred years oeort by a arge team. Most o thephotography, research, and recpedeeopment and testng took pace n theteam’s ktchen aboratory n Beeue,Washngton. Scenes shown on thepreous page ncude (cockwse rom topet) coauthor and head che Mame Bettossng str ry or the photo on page 2·50,nstrument maker Ted Es sawngequpment n ha or a cutaway mage,che Grant Cry arrangng sausage or acutaway mage o a gr (see page 2·14),author Nathan Myhrod adjustng a rotaryeaporator, Mame arrangng up apate-up or a photo shoot, Grant gettngspattered whe runnng an mmersonbender upsde-down to get a dramatcpcture, researcher Chrstna Mer mngt up, the photo studo oor ater oneespecay messy shoot (see page 4·196),che Johnny Zhu puttng the na toucheson a tapa (see page 2·189), and coauthorChrs Young workng wth Grant and cheSam Fahey-Burke to prepare a pg orcookng sous de—whoe.
For reerences torecommended cunarybooks, ncudng books by Modernst ches, seethe Further Readng secton near the end ooume 5.
 
Nex, inspired b he quesions ha people hadposed in he eGulle hread on sous vide, Idecided ha m book would also include inorma-ion abou he basic phsics o hea and waer.Ches hailing rom man o he bes kichens inhe world, as well as amaeurs o all sors, hadquesions abou hea ranser. When making radiional cuisine, ou don’need o undersand precisel how hea moves inoand hrough ood—ou jus need o know ha ou urn he burner o medium-high, or example,or se he oven o 175
°C
/ 350
°F
and roas ourood unil i’s golden brown. Unorunael, hisapproach gives ou litle inuiion ha’s an help when ou r o use a echnique like sous vide, in which a more precise knowledge o he heaingprocess is required o achieve consisenl goodresuls. For he mos par, experience romconvenional cooking does no appl.Bu his raised a quesion: wouldn’ people likeo undersand how radiional cooking acuall  works? Aside rom is inrinsic ineres, he scienceo cooking would also help ches appl Modernisechniques. Beore long, I was sliding down aslipper slope oward a book o epic proporions. Wh no add a secion on hdrocolloids? Whaabou oams? A ha sage, m ideas were moredadreams han pracical reali, so i was eas oconvince msel ha i all made sense.How could such a echnical book be madeaccessible o readers? I decided ha phoogra-ph—anoher passion o mine—could make hedierence b presening echnical conceps in ahighl visual manner. M hope was ha seducive-l beauiul and clear phoos would boh draw readers in and provide a clear demonsraion o  wha he ex old hem. Tis decision made he book much more challenging o creae bu alsoha much more compelling i i was successul. Wha I wound up wih was wha ou see now, amulivolume book wih hree main goals: oexplain ke aspecs o ood science in a new wa;o show how radiional cooking reall works; ando provide deailed, sep-b-sep phoos andinsrucions or ever major echnique andingredien in Modernis cooking. A saner man
TRADITIONAL COOKING 59
Drippings are the realsecretto theunique flavor of grilled food. As thesecomplex chemical solutions combust,they coat the food with a panoply of aromatic and delicious compounds. A layer of ashshould coat the coalsbeforefood goes on the grill. The ashdims the coals’glow, moderating theheat they radiate. The ash alsoreduces the chimney effect byinsulating the coals from the air.Food must be relatively thinto cook properly in the intenseradiant heat and scorching air rising from the coals. Food that istoo thick will burn on the outsidebeforeheat can penetrate to itscore.Glowing coalsgenerate temperatures well above the700
°C
/ 1,300
°F
required to emit light in the visiblepart of the spectrum. The bright orange light emitted bythe centerof the embers indicates a temperature above1,100
°C
/ 2,000
°F
. Pockets between the coals arehotter still:there, burning carbon monoxide heats sootto at least 1,400
°C
/ 2,550
°F
!Flamesmay seem to flicker above charcoal,but these fierytongues are actually little plumes of incandescent carbon soot.The superheated air is turbulent; it lifts soot particles off the coalsand allows them to react with carbon dioxide in the air to pro-duce carbon monoxide. The flammable monoxide burns with ahot but faint blue flame at 1,600
°C
/ 2,900
°F
or higher, whichheats the soot particles so much that they glow with an intensewhite light that masks the dim fi
re from the monoxide. FlFlFlFl
 IRRADIATING FOOD TO PERFECTION
Grilling food over an open flame is a practice as old as humanity itself. Indeed,it’s likely that we are human precisely because we learned to grill our food.Perhaps it is this primeval connection that makes grilled foods such as ham-burgers so mouth-watering: we’re hard-wired by evolution to find comfortin the heat of the grill, the smell of the smoke, and the taste of the food. Al-though grilling food is so simple that our ancestors managed to do it eons ago,mastering the heat of the grill is a culinary challenge of the highest order.
Most of the heata grill producesis wasted. Itbypasses the food and literally goes up insmoke or is radiated away into the sky. Butwithout the intense heat, grilled food wouldnot taste as good.Smoke is an aerosol—a mixture of minuscule solid particles dispersedwithin a blend of invisible gases. The solidsmakesmoke heavier than air; itfloats only when carried aloft by rising hot air from the draft. (If you letsmoke cool to ambient temperature, it will sink.)The solidsalso scatter light—an example of the so-called Tyndall effect—and blue rays get scat-tered more than red, casting smoke’s blue haze.Wafting smokegives form to the turbulent air thatrushes skyward past the patties, much like whathap-pensin a chimney. Heat from the burning fuel causesadjacent air to expand, making it more buoyant. As thehot air rises, it cooks the food and creates a draft thatsucks more air in to fuel the fire.Grills are definitely not nonsticksurfaces. The high temperatures atwhich charcoal grills operate wouldmakemost nonstick coatingsunstable. Coating food in oil works,but can cause flare-ups that coat thefood with soot. The best way to avoidsticking is to preseason the grill witha patinamuch as you would an ironskillet or steel wok (see How toSeason a Wok, page TK). A variable air ventallows thegriller to control the flow of air into the fire. Starve the coals of fresh air to cool them and slowthe chimney effect; open thevents to turn up the heat.
 
S
 
ir 
Throughout the book, we use cutawaymages to prode an nsde ew o thecookng process. We cut a Weber gr(and a coupe hamburgers) n ha or ourannotated epanaton o grng onpage 2·7.

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