Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Food Lab's Gazpacho

Food Lab Gazpacho

This was one of the recipes we took down to the beach to make while we were on vacation. Gazpacho is of course the dictionary definition of "perfect summer dish", as it both takes advantage of the plentiful summer produce, and is also served cold to beat the heat. In addition, it gives you a great excuse to check out the local markets wherever you are vacationing( for example: Lewes Farmers' Market).

Perfectly Ripe Tomatoes

The special technique that separates this gazpacho from others is the concept of "cryo-blanching", which, while it just means "freezing", is a pretty cutting edge culinary technique pioneered by Ideas In Food. I'll let Kenji explain:
The idea is that as ice forms inside the vegetables' cells, the sharp, jagged crystals end up rupturing and weakening the walls of the cells. What you end up with is a vegetable that's soft as if it's been cooked, but still retains its fresh, raw flavor.
So in his recipe, Kenji uses a combo of salting and cryo-blanching to extract as much liquid from the vegetables as possible and then blends everything together to produce his gazpacho. One advantage of this approach is that this is a pretty easy dish to prepare compared to gazpachos with lots of fine dicing. On the other hand you definitely do need to strain it. To many this may seem overly fussy, but we tried it both ways... and even though I had to use the tiniest fine mesh strainer in the universe and thus had to strain the soup by the ladle-full... the strained version was infinitely better. The non-strained version isn't more "rustic"... it just tastes like a weird vegetable salsa, not a soup. Though as someone who does generally prefer rustic soups to purees, I advise reserving a little extra tomato and cucumber so that you can dice up a garnish to get a texture contrast.

Anyway, recipe is here. Definitely worth making.