One of the easiest ways to try out molecular gastronomy is by creating "pearls". Most pearls are solid jelly balls that can be used to garnish dishes or as an amuse-bouche.
Here we create sweet-sour balsamic vinegar pearls that are a great way to add a hit of flavor to many different dishes. The process of making them is even pretty easy.
We first combine the vinegar with agar agar and bring it to a boil. Then we drizzle it into very cold olive oil that chills the droplets into spheres before they reach the bottom of the glass. Once you rinse off the balsamic vinegar pearls they are ready to use or you can store them in the refrigerator for later use.
We've also included a video below showing the technique in action.
If you like this recipe you can get more than 80 other recipes from my book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Getting Started. The book covers many of the popular modernist techniques such as gelling, spherification, and foams. It also explores modernist ingredients like agar, sodium alginate, tapioca maltodextrin, and xanthan gum. It is all presented in an easy to understand format and I think it's the best way to learn about modernist cooking.
Also, if you are just getting started experimenting with molecular gastronomy and modernist cuisine then I highly recommend one of these molecular gastronomy kits. They have everything you need to do many different dishes.
Because they use modernist ingredients, these amounts for this component are given in metric by weight. Learn more about how to measure modernist ingredients in this article.
Before starting, fill a tall glass with olive oil and place it into the freezer for at least 30 minutes. The oil needs to be very cold so the balsamic vinegar pearls will cool before they reach the bottom. Once the oil is cold you may continue making the balsamic vinegar pearls.
Add the balsamic vinegar to a pot along with the agar agar and bring to a boil while stirring. Once it begins to boil remove it from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Drip the hot liquid using a dropper or syringe into the cold olive oil. It's best to try to leave drops of equal size but you can always sort them into different sizes of balsamic vinegar pearls once they are done. Once all the pearls are made you can remove them from the olive oil and rinse them in water.
Now you can make balsamic vinegar pearls of your own!