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Getting started with Modernist Cooking can be a daunting task. However, there are just a few pieces of equipment and ingredients you need to get started. Here's a list of what I recommend for people just getting started with modernist cooking.
Here are links direct to my suggestions for the equipment you need to get ready to use modernist cooking. Click a link to buy now from Amazon or Modernist Pantry, or scroll down for a more detailed description of each item.
Need a little more information before you make your decision? Here's everything you need to know about each item listed above.
The majority of recipes for modernist cooking specify the amounts of ingredients by weight rather than volume. Therefore, it is important that the modernist cook have two digital scales: One for relatively large amounts of ingredients and one for very small amounts. This scale is for large amounts and should have a capability in the range of 2.2 kg to 4.5 kg (5-10 pounds).
This OXO Good Grips Stainless Food Scale has a 5 kg (11 lb) capacity and a "zero" function. It also has a pull-out display which is really handy when using a large container or if weighing boxes headed to the post office.
The gram scale is necessary to weigh the relatively small amounts of modernist ingredients used in modernist cooking recipes. Typical amounts used in recipes range from 0.1 to 20.0 grams. The gram scale should have a minimum of 0.1 gram increments.
The American Weight Scales Black Blade Digital Pocket Scale is quite small and inexpensive. It can weigh up to 400 grams in 0.1 gram increments.
In modernist cooking an immersion blender is needed to blend in many of the ingredients to ensure they are evenly mixed. A standing blender can be used but it's so much more convenient to use an immersion blender. It is also very useful in traditional cooking to puree sauces and soups and to make vinaigrette's and mayonnaise. Obtaining one with a whisk attachment will also save you a lot of work down the road.
The Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender is a high quality unit that comes with an ergonomic pistol grip for easy control. It has an 8" immersion depth for deep pots, 15 adjustable speeds and comes with a whisk attachment and chopping bowl. A unique advantage is that it has a non-scratch guard on the bottom to prevent chipping and scratching of nonstick cookware.
This unit is the highest rated by Consumer Reports by a "sizable margin". The unit is more expensive than most, so depending on your budget, you may want to explore less expensive alternatives.
A whisk is a simple, but important, tool in the modernist chef's arsenal. Better whisks have at least 10 loops of wire that are thin and flexible making them more efficient.
The OXO Good Grips 11" Balloon Whisk is a "Best Seller" on Amazon and is also recommended as the best whisk by two other prestigious websites. It has 10 stainless steel wire loops, and like most OXO products, is very ergonomic, making it less fatiguing to use.
This Modernist Cooking Kit is the perfect introduction to the basic techniques and ingredients that you will need to enter the world of Molecular Gastronomy. Includes 8 ingredients and tools to get you on your way to becoming a modernist cook including my 250 page Getting Started book.Basic Getting Started Kit - $50
This Premium Modernist Cooking Kit has what you need to master the primary techniques and ingredients that will have them talking about your next dinner party for months. Includes 18 ingredients and tools to get you on your way to becoming a modernist cook including my 250 page Getting Started book.Premium Getting Started Kit - $80
This Ultimate Modernist Cooking Kit has everything you need to begin mastering modernist cooking including all the main techniques. Includes 34 ingredients and tools to get you on your way to becoming a modernist cook including my 250 page Getting Started book.Ultimate Getting Started Kit - $180
Modernist cooking is quickly gaining popularity in high end restaurants and working its way into home kitchens. However, clear, concise information for getting started isn't readily available. That's where Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Getting Started comes in!
This book provides all the information you need to get started with modernist cooking and molecular gastronomy. It is all presented in an easy to understand format, along with more than 80 recipes, that can be applied immediately in your kitchen.
Xanthan gum, or just xanthan, is one of the easiest ingredients to work with. It is used extensively to thicken liquids. When put in a whipping siphon these liquids are great for making froths and other light foams.
Agar quickly turns liquids into gels and fluid gels. These gels can easily be used to create foams ranging from the light and airy to thick and dense. The foams can be served either hot or cold.
Calcium lactate is a calcium salt and is one of the most common ways to introduce calcium into mixtures. It is typically used with sodium alginate and other ingredients that require calcium. Calcium lactate has a mild taste and can be used in both direct and reverse spherification.
Sodium alginate is most well known for its use in spherification. It is a natural gelling agent taken from the cell walls of brown algae. It easily disperses, hydrates, and gels in any temperature of liquid. Sodium alginate gels when it comes in contact with calcium. It also has many uses other than spherification such as thickening and general gelling.
Gelatin is one of the oldest "modernist" ingredients in western cooking. It is used in many childhood favorites from the ubiquitous Jell-O at family picnics to the marshmallows roasted in s'mores. Gelatin can also be used to create foams and a wide variety of gels.