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Using miniature spheres, referred to as caviar, is a great way to add little bursts of flavor to dishes. Here we use a chipotle water to make the flavored base but you can use the same technique on any liquid that doesn't contain calcium. The chipotle water is combined with sodium alginate for direct spherification.
These direct spherification chipotle caviar are great additions to a tortilla soup or when placed on top of a Mexican spiced flank steak or grilled chicken. You could even use them as a garnish for Bloody Marys. Use as many chipotles as you want, or even just some hot sauce, but remember the diner will get a burst of the spice so it shouldn't be too strong. The sodium alginate will not flavor the caviar any.
You have to move quickly during the final steps of making these caviar because they set very quickly and continue gelling. Sometimes it can help if two people work together, one dripping in the sodium alginate chipotle water and the other fishing them out.
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 are given in metric by weight. For more information on how to measure modernist ingredients check out this article.
4 grams sodium alginate, 1.0%
5 grams calcium lactate, 0.5%
Add the water and chipotle chiles to a pot and blend well with an immersion blender. Bring to a boil. Taste for spiciness, adding more chipotle peppers and pureeing if needed. Remove from the heat. Add the sodium alginate and blend with an immersion blender. Let cool and then refrigerate for several hours or overnight so the bubbles disperse.
Make the setting bath by adding the calcium lactate to the water and blending with a clean immersion blender. Fill another bowl with water to use as the rinsing bath.
Just before serving, prepare the caviar. Slowly drip the chipotle water into the setting bath using the syringe, squeeze bottle or eye dropper. After 30-45 seconds take out the caviar with the slotted spoon, place them in the rinsing bath, and swirl them around gently. Repeat until you have used all the chipotle water.
Serve the caviar as quickly as possible because they will continue to solidify.