martes, 7 de julio de 2009

Microwave Crisping

Foodplayer Linda's last post on crispy asparagus sparked an interest into making crispy vegetables with a different technique than that used in pastry (simple syrup + oven). Two things stand out for me in her experiment, apart from the obvious, exciting result: first, finding a better way to use our microwave oven, and second, the fact that replicating the technique seems doable within almost any kitchen.

After asking her about other experiments with other vegetables, she let me know that she has gotten good results out of mushrooms and she's got a list of others to try. We have a dish at the restaurant that, while it sells like crazy, I've always felt that it needs something to give it a bit more of a visual impact. So the thought of crisping zucchini came to mind.

I took some zucchini bits left over from some prep and since it was too short to slice lengthwise, sliced it into rounds. Prepped my salted water and blanched them. I laid the zucchini rounds on paper towels and transfered to parchment. In comes snag #1. The dehydration process. Our oven's lowest temp setting is 220°F. So instead of the 30 minutes at 100°F they were there for 15 minutes. Snag #2 came from a huge human error. I was pulled into a meeting and couldn't keep watch over my experiment. When I came out of the meeting I found my rounds perhaps a bit too dry or they were too thinly sliced as many were sticking to the parchment or too fragile to handle.

Still I managed to get some into the microwave. Before I had my zucchini ready, I microwaved some of our soft apple glass with pretty decent results. Testing on the glass allowed me to notice that perhaps tossing stuff into the microwave at full power wasn't too wise. Plinio advised to reduce power. Which led to a bunch of trial and error tests to get the right power and time. It also reminded me of David Arnold's microwave power woes and to think about how the oven being non-linear could affect the result.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel like finishing pastry's mise en place with my testing and I didn't quite like my zucchini slices. So results obtained so far are mixed. Initially it feels like a wafer. It's paper thin and somewhat crispy. Once inside the mouth it loses the texture and becomes chewy. Taste, however, is very good. Although I'm thinking of seasoning them slightly. Perhaps with curry...