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Thickener

The main role played by thickening in the realm of cooking, whether modern or classic, is to increase viscosity in fluids. As a result of this thickened state liquids are given a different appearance as well as texture. One of the biggest changes in appearance that thickened fluids may have is body.

Another major role played by thickeners in cuisine is that of a binder. Specific ingredients may not bind freely together and become stable. Thickeners also work to improve the dining experience through taste, texture and appearance.

There are several common thickeners, such as, carrageenan, mono & diglycerides, tapioca maltodextrin, Ultra-Sperse, Ultra-Tex and xanthan gum. In addition, there are many different ingredients used for thickening agents, such as, starches (flour, corn, potato), natural gums, pectins, proteins (eggs).

You can get more information about thickening from my guide on how to make thickening or from the thickening articles below.

Thickener Recipes and Articles

Pressure Cooker Brisket Peppered Beef Recipe

Pressure cooked pepper steak close The other day I was up for some Chinese food but I didn't feel like ordering the greasy, starchy takeout from around the corner so I decided to make some myself. I had some extra brisket in the freezer that I wanted to use up so I went for a pressure cooked version of Chinese Peppered Beef.

Honey-Chipotle BBQ Sauce Recipe

Chicken tenders When I'm having wings I almost always reach for the honey-chipotle BBQ sauce. It's a delicate balance between the heat from the chipotles and the sweetness from the honey. Just be sure to make plenty, your guests will love it!

Pea Pesto Recipe

Pea pesto dip This recipe makes a clean and fresh tasting pea pesto dip that works great with just about everything, especially grilled sourdough bread, carrot and celery sticks, as well as roasted vegetable chips. This party favorite is quick and easy to put together and can be made with defrosted frozen peas - however, if you have access to fresh spring peas it'll be even better!

Sous Vide Sirloin Steak with Lime-Ginger Slaw

Sirloin steak lime ginger slaw side This recipe combines lime and ginger which are two great ingredients to pair with the bold flavors of the sous vided sirloin steak. I like to add texture and brightness to the dish by combining them in a vinaigrette-style sauce that is drizzled over a crispy cabbage and pepper slaw topping.

Chicken with Teriyaki Froth Recipe

Teriyaki froth2 This recipe tops sous vided chicken with a modernist froth to make a favorite dish that even pickier eaters tend to gobble up! By using xanthan gum in the teriyaki sauce you can turn it into a flavorful froth in a whipping siphon. Even a "basic" food can be the talk of the party!

Pork with Roasted Apple Pudding Recipe

Roasted apple pudding The combination of apples and pork are a classic pairing in Irish cooking. For this recipe, I roast apples and use the modernist ingredient of agar to turn them into a fun pudding topper for pork. By sous vide cooking the pork, you can consistently serve an extra moist and tender meat entree.

Sous Vide Tarragon, Lemon, and Shallot Vinaigrette

Tarragon lemon infused vinaigrette This recipe infuses the flavors of shallot, lemon, and tarragon into a vinegar and then makes it into a light, bright vinaigrette. This pairing adds several base layers of flavor to the fish. For a modernist twist, thicken it into a sauce with xanthan gum!

White Bean Puree with Rosemary Oil Recipe

Rosemary oil2 This recipe is a great crostini topping for any party, especially if some attendees might be less adventurous eaters! It resembles a more traditional dish but it have a subtle modernist touch. Garnishing the white bean puree with lemon zest pulls in even more highlights to the food.

Habanero-Peach Dip Recipe

Peach habanero dip This dip recipe combines the spicy heat of habanero peppers with the sweet taste of fresh ripe peaches. The resulting tangy dip is great on vegetables or even meat. By altering the amount of peppers used, you can raise or lower the heat to suit your guests.

Sparkling Grape Gazpacho Recipe

Sparkling grape gazpacho front Sweet green grapes are another favorite snack of mine and they're a great party food because most people really like them. For this more upscale dish I turn them into a sweet, fizzy soup. The xanthan gum helps hold the particles in suspension and the carbonation effect adds a pleasant tingle and tang to it.

Ultra-Tex

Ultra tex gravy Ultra-tex is very similar in use to xanthan gum. It can thicken liquids at most temperatures and often has a better mouthfeel than xanthan gum does at higher concentrations.

Ultra-Sperse

Blackberry foam cocktail Ultra-Sperse is an all-natural starch used in the culinary world in many of the same ways xanthan gum is used. It is very good for thickening liquids.

Salmon Bites with Tomatillo Agar Fluid Gel Sauce Recipe

Tomatillo agar fluid gel pudding These Mexican inspired salmon bites pack a lot of flavor in a little package. The acidity from the tomatillos compliments the salmon perfectly and the crunch from the fried tortillas adds great texture.

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Recipe

Red pepper crustini top Not all dishes that use modernist ingredients have to be super fancy in-your-face dishes that look like they came from Alinea. This red pepper pesto crustini is a great example. It is a simple, hearty snack that is great when served as an appetizer or set out as hors d'oeuvres.

Xanthan Strengthened Maple Vinaigrette Recipe

Maple vinaigrette This is a simple modernist vinaigrette to make and utilizes both xanthan gum and lecithin to strengthen and thicken it. I really like the sweet maple syrup with the tangy balsamic vinegar. This goes well on salads, especially ones with berries. You can also add a little more xanthan gum and use the vinaigrette as a sauce on fish or chicken.

Xanthan Gum Banana Milkshake Recipe

Xanthan gum banana milkshake Xanthan gum is a great thickener and can be used with a variety of foods. Making low fat milk shakes is a great way to use it. Here we make a low fat banana milk shake.

Sesame Oil Powder Recipe

Seasame powder An easy way to get started with molecular gastronomy or modernist cuisine is through the creation of tapioca maltodextrin powders. Tapioca maltodextrin is simply a extremely fine powder that acts as a thickener when mixed with fat. This modernist recipe focuses on making a sesame oil powder.

Thickening Technique

Xanthan syrup strawberries2 Thickening is a modernist technique which actually dates back in history and plays a significant role in the creation of sauces and various dishes. The earliest form of thickening was achieved through reduction. Later on the use of food additives was employed. Today, in modern cuisine a number of thickening agents are used in order to achieve this.

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls Recipe

Balsamic pearls thumbnail One of the easiest molecular gastronomy recipes to try is by creating "pearls". Most pearls are solid jelly balls that can be used to garnish dishes or as an amuse-bouche. Here we use sweet-sour balsamic vinegar to make 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.

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