Mouth-watering molecular theory, chemistry for the tastebuds

The delicious results of food-pairing trees

Do you like coffee with milk? How about chocolate and peanut butter? Or wine and cheese? Some foods simply go together really well, this much we know. But recently some food scientists, chemists, and chefs have been looking into the reasons behind good food pairing, but on a scientific level. The new approach, called flavour-pairing theory, states that foods that share key flavour compounds are likely to go well together. Want some examples of some (potentially) tasty combinations? Read on:

White chocolate and caviar
Strawberry and coriander
Strawberry, celery leaves and mint
Mango and pine extract
Green peppercorn jelly and beetroot
Snails and Beetroot
Chocolate and pink peppercorn
Carrot and violet
Carrot and coriander seeds
Mango and violet
Mango and pine
Pineapple, blue cheese and white wine
Cauliflower (caramelized) and cocoa
Banana and parsley
Chocolate and smoked eel
Garlic, coffee and chocolate.
Salmon and licorice
Oyster and passion fruit, kiwi

This idea of looking into the very basics of flavour mixing goes back to an unusual partnership between François Benzi, who is a flavour chemist from Firmenich (the world's largest privately-owned company in the perfume and flavour business), and Heston Blumenthal, the owner of the three-Michelin-starred U.K. restaurant The Fat Duck. These two connoisseurs shared a preference for some rather odd combinations, such as pork liver and jasmine flower or white chocolate and caviar. As it turns out, pork liver and jasmine flower shares some indole compounds, whereas the white chocolate-caviar combo shared some amines molecules. From this starting point, the two got the ball rolling on the search for odd but potentially compatible food combinations.

Scientist are now creating these food-pairing trees, as the one above for a Belgium beer, which show what foods are likely to be a good match. According to the tree, the closer the foods are the more likely they are to mix well. To make your own food-pairing trees, you can go to http://www.foodpairing.com/, and choose your favorite ingredients.

Bernard Lahousse, Partner & Science Director at www.foodpairing.com, shared some recipes with The Munich Times. See below.

Chicken skin - foie gras - passion fruit - banana
8 chicken skin
curry powder
pepper and salt
20 g foie gras terrine
75 g passion fruit juice
25 g sugar
0.8 g agar
1/2 banana

Cut the excess fat from the chicken skin. Season the skin with salt, pepper and curry powder.
Put skin on baking sheet between 2 baking trays and bake until golden brown in a preheated oven at 220°C. Let cool on a rack.
Cut thin slices of foie gras terrine.
Mix the passion fruit juice with the sugar and the agar. Bring to a boil. Pour onto a plate and allow gelling. Mix until smooth. Cut the banana into small cubes and mix in the passion fruit jelly.
Arrange the foie gras terrine and the jelly on the pieces of chicken skin.
Serve with a Leffe Royale.

Oyster - coconut - lychee - rose
4 oysters
2 lychee
100 g coconut puree
1 ts lemon juice
1 g guar gum
rose petals

Mix the coconut puree with lemon juice and guar gum. Store in refrigerator until needed.
Open the oysters. Loosen and remove them from the shell. Clean the shell and also, if necessary, the oyster.
Remove the peel and pit the lychee. Cut into 4.
Spoon some coconut puree on the oyster shell. Return the oyster to the shell. Garnish with pieces of lychee and a rose petal.

 

Original Article: 
"Molecular Gastronomy Cooks Up Strange Plate-Fellows" (Chemical & Engineering News, Volume 90 Issue 25 | pp. 37-40)

A scientifically garnished oyster


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