There is so much to say about modern culinary equipment and the multitude of things it can do. For every specific task; you are likely to find machinery that can assist you to work faster and reduce labour cost. At the same time, technology has also opened up possibilities for chefs to change the original context of ingredients to create new elements and experiences for their diners who are increasingly learning an appreciation for the art in culinary. In this section, you will find some equipment that we think has contributed to heightening the experience for the diner or the chef.
CRISPING IT UP WITH CONVOTHERM
Deep frying is a skill that requires much practice; one has to know the oil’s temperature for different type of items and the timing of cooking. Even regulating the intensity of heat plays a role in the final product so that it is juicy inside, crisp on the exterior without being laden with oil when you take a bite. Using a Convotherm combi-steamer with its Crisp&Tasty function extracts more moisture out of food during the cooking process yet maintaining the succulent inside. Crisp&Tasty dehumidification function can be switched and incorporated into the cooking program at three different levels and can also be selected to run concurrently with the regeneration process. Deep fried food is also made healthier as it does not require an entire pot of oil to cook when using the combi-steamer.
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SOUNDWAVES’ EFFECT WITH SONICPREP™ ULTRASONIC HOMOGENIZER
Ultrasonic sound waves or “sonicates” are emitted by the homogenizer by applying low heat vibrations of sound energy to provide a wide range of techniques with its four components that include a generator, converter, probe and sound box. The probe is inserted into a low-to medium-viscosity liquid and the tip will release rapid, high-frequency ultrasonic vibration waves effective in expanding and collapsing microscopic bubbles at 20,000 cycles per second to elevate an item in just 2-3 minutes without compromising on the ingredients’ colours, aroma or nutrients. Amongst its application include: • Creating emulsions by combining ingredients that ordinarily do not combine such as oil and egg yolks to make exceptionally fresh mayonnaise without slow whisking or adding an emulsifying agent.
• Quick infusions of herbs or spices to flavour liquids.
• Degas and homogenize wine for a fuller taste.
• Give calvados (a brandy) flavour effect with wood chips that usually takes 2 years to infuse.
• Intensify stock flavours without having to over cook proteins especially delicate items like shrimp and fish.
Photo credits to Polyscience at www.cuisinetechnology.com
NO AIR POCKETS WITH VACMASTER
Vacuum packed food items are a common sight at supermarkets as it helps food last longer while its compacted package helps in space efficiency. The straightforward device from Vacmaster is a chamber vacuum sealer that sucks out the air from the bag without removing the liquids as a non-chamber household type sealer normally does. Vacuum packing preserves the colour and freshness of raw produce as it is not exposed to possible freezer burn that results in meat turning grey. Sealing is not just for preservation as chefs have found it as a creative outlet to remove air from porous foods such as watermelon which results in a denser, almost meaty bite or seal it together with a fruit juice to create an infusion. Vacuum reduces pressure that causes expansion of air and moisture within the plant tissue thus rupturing structures within the food. As surrounding pressure returns to regular level, air-filled spaces collapse and light will pass through the food lending it a translucent appearance that attracts the diner. Vacuum packing is also regularly used in the sous-vide method of cooking (turn to page 61 to learn more about sous-vide machines).
For more information visit www.myvacmaster.com
EXPRESSIONS WITH iSi WHIP
Often an element in modern culinary, foams (called espuma) add another dimension to the platter without being too heavy on the palate compared to the regular sauces. Foams can be any flavours, hot or cold. The iSi Whip is a hand-held canister that utilises the principle of pressure and element of gas to whip up foams in minutes instead of the conventional long hours. Nitrous oxide is housed in a recyclable disposable cartridge called a charger which is attached to the iSi Whip canister to inject the exact amount of gas necessary. Some chefs use a needle to inject flavours into proteins for a deeper infusion and shorter marinating time. The iSi Whip allows chefs to do this quicker by matching flavour profiles right inside the canister and injecting it directly with gas pressure into the meat. Carbonating is a technique that adds the bubbly and fizz to items like fruits, cocktails or vegetables and the iSi Whip is able to achieve the effect when the CO2 charger is used instead of N20 together with the iSi Soda Siphon. You can transform dense mozzarella cheese into a light balloon by using the whip as an air pump. This happens when air is being dispensed evenly and consistently. Or try inflating the mozzarella balloon with foam to give a twist to the traditional burrata (Italian cheese consisting mozzarella and cream).
**All images relating to the iSi Whip was obtained from www.isi.com, unless stated otherwise.
HIGH VOLUME EFFICIENCY WITH ELECTROLUX PROTHERMATIC BRAISING PAN
Imagine having to stew hundreds of kilogrammes of meat a day on the gas stove top; with all the watching and stirring, chefs have lesser time to look into other tasks. The ProThermatic Braising Pan uses the technology of pressure cooking where produce is cooked in a sealed vessel that prevents air or liquids to escape below a pre-set pressure. Ideal for catering services or central kitchens, braising pans offer a much wider surface to cook large volumes of food. • Soft function automatically regulates heating energy according to food’s consistency.
• Tenderise tougher cuts of meat by up to 70% faster compared to normal braising.
• Power Block heating system ensures quicker and uniform cooking.
• Independent heating zones allow cooking different items simultaneously.
• Save up to 1,000 recipes in a USB drive and replicate 100% in any ProThermatic equipped kitchen.
SERVING NICHE WITH HSG PANINI
Popular in delis, cafes or snack stands is panini; the Italian meaning of a stuffed-bread sandwich. Panini grills are usually small in size and to cater to the commercial setting, speed will be key which is the core reason for Electrolux’s HSG Panini.
• Warms up a refrigerated 350g sandwich at the temperature of 4°C in less than 60 seconds.
• Non-stick contact surface ensures no remaining food is left on the grill plate.
• 3 heating modes include contact plates, infrared radiation and microwaves to prepare different sandwich typologies through 4 automatic programmes.
• Self-adjusting upper plate to hold almost any height of the sandwich.
• Stainless steel moisture exhaust grid removes any excess humidity for crispy crusted bread and warm fillings.
• Automatic holding system that stays closed during the cooking phase and opens when complete.
INFLUENCING TEXTURES WITH THE EXCALIBUR DEHYDRATOR
Fresh foods are inarguably good but a dehydrator offers ways to manipulate them, bringing new light to how we perceive and taste our regular foods.
Tanzini’s Senior Sous Chef Eugene Lee explains dehydration in the simplest term as the removal of all moisture from food to intensify its sugar and flavours. As dry air blows from the fan, oxidation occurs which also plays a role in colour enhancement; an often used illustration being dehydrated tomatoes that will result in sharper colours and a richer flavour to better permeate items it is paired with.
The Excalibur has an Adjustable Thermostat that dries food at low enough temperature to maintain enzymes in fruits and vegetables, enabling the serving of traditional chips in more variants and in a healthier version. Of course this is produce-dependent and basic knowledge of the varying moisture content of each item, which would require individual settings to achieve the desired texture.
Although drying food is what the Excalibur is built for, Chef Eugene says that many things are happening in the equipment such as caramelisation, removal of flavour components and impurities to create a specific type of atmosphere to further enhance the food; he even thinks that fermentation is possible. In Tanzini’s kitchen philosophy of not using equipment just the way it is, Chef Eugene shared that his team utilised the dehydrator to imitate the texture of cured meat with watermelon. It is about understanding the ambience needed for the watermelon to come across like meat and how to tune the equipment to achieve it. He sums it up with “The dehydrator is more than giving texture. It gives character to food items. It can be coupled with other cooking techniques to give rise to different experience of texture, taste, and even flavour.”
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For every form of art, there is its tool of expression and in the culinary realm, the fundamental comprehension of ingredients and the manual skill of mise en place and cooking are still very much emphasised. A strong foundation enables a chef to better utilise equipment spearheaded by technology and with a dash of creativity, turn ordinary ingredients or introduce new flavours to provide diners a feast for their senses.