Previously I had only tasted sliced strawberries with a fresh coriander leaf, just as a very basic illustration of this pairing. I must say I liked the combination, even though it’s dominated by coriander (or cilantro as it’s called in North America). But I figured that once the strawberries are processed into a dish, one would probably have to reduced the amount of coriander, so I did quite a lot of tasting as I proceeded with this combination for the third round of “They go really well together” (previous rounds: TGRWT #1, TGRWT #2). And I was surprised how well the coriander came through, even when using as little as 0.5 g! So start with a small amount of coriander if you decide to try this. Several have commented that they’re not to fond of coriander or the strawberry/coriander combo, and I wonder if this could be because they used too much coriander?
Anyway, I decided to go for a warm strawberry foam and be carefull with the amount of coriander. I started out without sugar, but found that sugar was essential for the strawberry coriander pairing (unless I would have taken it all in a savory direction like M did). Balsamico vinegar emphasizes the strawberry aroma and adds acid which I find important. If you plan to prepare this dish, I would suggest to add coriander, sugar and vinegar a little at a time, just to make sure it fits your taste.
Foamy strawberries with coriander and balsamic vinegar
200 g strawberries
0.5 g fresh coriander leaves
30 g sugar
14 g balsamic vinegar
150 g water
1 g xanthan
Make a purée of strawberries, coriander, sugar and balsamic vinegar with an immersion blender. In a separate container, mix water and xanthan using the same blender and add to the strawberry mix. Xanthan gives a viscous solution and helps retain the bubbles. The nice thing with xanthan is that it dissolves in cold liquid and requires no heating, but is stable at higher temperatures if you should want to heat the mixture. The immersion blender can be used to whip in some air, but for an even more airy texture, use an ISI whipper (many models available: cream, easy, gourmet, dessert, thermo) and charge with a cream charge (N2O). Important: you must filter out ALL the small stones from the strawberries using a cheese cloth or a towel, before transfering the mixture to the whipper, as these will clog the nozzle of the wipper (mine got clogged!). For a warm foam, heat the whipper in a water bath at 60-70 °C, but only do this if you have the ISI gourmet or thermo whippers which are designed for higher temperatures.
Verdict: I was very satisfied and my wife liked it too! There’s a good balance between the strawberry and coriander aroma. Sugar rounds of the taste and the balsamic vinegar balances the sugar with it’s tangyness. I served the foam warm together with plain vanilla ice cream – delicious! At room temperature the sugar/acid balance was perfect according to my taste, but when served warm the foam was perhaps a little on the sweet side (which comes as no surprise as sweetness decreases when lowering the temperature).
flavor pairing, hydrocolloids, molecular gastronomy, recipe, TGRWT
Closeup of a larger air bubble below the surface! Who can resist to taste this?