Last week we had here in Istria temperatures of over 35ºC. The heat wave was able to kill my appetite but not my curiosity. I was wondering, is it possible to make an ice cold appetizer that would perfectly fit a dinner on a really warm summer evening?
Something salty of course, sugar kills my appetite. Something like gaspacho but made from an ingredient you don’t meet every day. The last package of wild asparagus foraged last spring was hanging out in my freezer and I got a crazy idea. I’ll try to make a salty wild asparagus sorbetto.
Here is what I invented after consulting recipes of similar sorbettos on the web.
60 g steamed and blended wild asparagus (or green cultivated ones)
15 g egg white
7 g white wine
20 g white sugar
5 g water
2 g lemon juice
2 g salt
Make sugar syrup with water and sugar, leave it to cool down. Then mix all ingredients. You will get a thick green cream. Now it’s time to turn the liquid into ice.
I did it in a fast way by using liquid nitrogen, but no worries, you can also make it in classical way by using an ice cream maker. The advantage of liquid nitrogen is that as you pour it into the mixture, it heats up, it goes from the liquid to the gas phase, the gas evaporates and part of it gets incorporated in the sorbetto, making it fluffy and with foam-like texture. The use of liquid nitrogen to rapidly cool down the ingredients has now become a classical technique of molecular cuisine and it’s convenient way to make creamy ice cream or sorbetto in 5 minutes.
With an electric mixer on low speed continuously mix the cream while another person slowly pours the liquid nitrogen in the bowl (many thanks to my roommate who helped me, although she thought her life is in danger). Do it slowly, otherwise everything will solidify and you won’t see what are you doing due to the large amount of mist that will form (see the video below).
In about five minutes the liquid will turn into tiny ice crystals and your sorbetto is done. Here is the consistency you should get at the end.
Alternatively, put the cream in the ice cream maker and follow the instructions until the sorbetto gets desired consistence. This method takes more time, 30-40 minutes at least. The third method is to put the bowl in the freezer, and then every hour you should mix everything thoroughly with the electric mixer.
I contrasted the sorbetto with something really weird – olive oil powder. It is a solid that looks like almond chunks and it smells like olive oil. At first it is crusty in the mouth, then finally while it melts you feel the taste of olive oil. Here is how I presented the dish (the mist is from the liquid nitrogen I poured before serving it).
To make it you need to find maltodextrine powder, complex sugar derived from starch that is used as a food aditive. This stuff has amazing capability to absorb any kind of fat (up to twice of its weight) and remain dry – the powder between fingers will seem as dry as breadcrumbs. You can buy maltodextrine in a sports supplements store since it is used to make high-carb drinks for endurance training (running, cycling…), or it is added in post-workout protein shakes that are usually consumed after the weight training.
You need two part of maltodextrine and one part of some good extravirgin olive oil. I used the oil made from Buža, indigenous Istrian olive variety with exceptionally strong flower and grass aroma, subtle sweet flavor and just a bit spicy in the finish. Mix the oil and maltodextrine in a small bowl with electric mixer. Pass it through tamis to aerate it and obtain fine powder. Put the powder in a stamp of your choice and serve it with a ball of asparagus sorbetto.
Final judgment on this experiment? The sorbetto was tasty and refreshing but asparagus flavor was very mild, the bitterness was almost absent so it was hard to tell it’s made from asparagus. Next time I’ll put more of them and use only freshly picked ones because after staying two months in the freezer their flavor was too faint.
What do you think: are salty sorbettos and ice creams something you would like to try or it’s balsphemy and only sweet variants should be made?