Category Archives: carrageenan

High Heat Gels

What if you could make a gel that remained solid at higher heat. By high heat I mean between the range of 50 – 70 degrees Celsius. About the temperatures you would serve hot soup.

We used to have a gum blend that was meant to replace gelatin. We coded it as blend 6455. I then found this type of kappa that was strangely elastic. I mixed that kappa with 6455 and the result was the FlexiGel blend. The great thing about this gel is that it seems fairly multi-purpose and forms quite strong gels.

Here are the coconut gels (Those white, tofu-like cubes) from yesterday in a lobster bisque As you can see from the thermometer, the temperature of the bisque is at 58 Celsius but the gels remain solid and show no signs of melting. Though, there is a negative effect of high heat gels, and that is lower flavour release.


Yes, I did some amateur editing to brighten the image of the thermometer.

Rules of thumb with Gels: The stronger the gel, the lower the flavour release. This is because the gel system holds on to the flavour compounds more. Loose liquid (ie soups and juices) will always have stronger, more instant flavour release. Also, the higher the heat stability of the gel, again the lower the flavour release. This is because the gel system does not melt on your palate. One reason why I still like using gelatin is because its melting point is very low and dissolves on the palate.

Food for thought: One way gelling is being used by chefs is by changing the flavour release from powerful and instant, to subtle but lingering. By holding the flavour as a gel, you are able to maintain that flavour throughout the entire bite. For example if you have an amuse on a spoon that had a liquod component, a piece of protein like prawn, and garnishes, what you would experience is first the intense flavour of the liquod component, and then gradually the prawn flavour comes out as you chew on it. Flavours of the garnish burst out as you bite on it. Usually, the flavour from the liquid component will only be perceived at the beginning of the bite. But by turning it into a gel or thickening it, you can allow that flavour to linger a little bit longer.


Centrifuged peas – w/ raw seafood

A quick nod to The Grove for the inspiration for this dish. I’ve been staging there on Saturdays recently. One day I brought some centrifuged pea juice to the restaurant and chef Ben Heaton said it would go really well with raw shrimps. So I decided to do exactly that.

There really is just something special about centrifuged juices. The intensity of flavours and cleanliness of textures are unmatched. Even if the initial ingredient was not at it’s peak, the juices that come out are still incredibly sweet (But of course, you should not use that as an excuse).

There are 2 variations. One with the pea “butter” which I first heard of from the book Modernist cuisine. It is essentially the very tiny amount of fat from peas. The 2nd variation is with the pea juice. I personally prefer the juice variation because of how clean and refreshing the juice is. It’s just a better fit with the raw seafood.

Raw shrimp, scallop, sea urchin – ginger, salmon roe, coconut gel, fennel

Variation 1. The green dollops are the pea butters.



Variation 2. Instead of pea butter I just used the blanched peas for texture. Also, notice how vibrant the colour of the pea juice is.



Eggless custard using lambda and iota carrageenan

Eggless custards, not anything new. There have been many variations of it from using different starches to more “modernist” ingredients. What I have noticed though is that not many have used lambda carrageenan, which arguably gives one of the best results in both mouthfeel and flavour release.

Info about Lambda: It is another variety of carrageenan. It is cold soluble in both dairy and non dairy applications. Like other carrageenans it displays strong synergies with dairy. It is non gelling. In food manufacturing, it is mostly used in yogurt, cheese and ice cream production. It’s main value is in its cold solubility. It also helps prevent whey separation in ice creams and other dairy products.

So in the photo above, there are 2 variations, but they both started with the same custard base of 450g vanilla and orange zest infused whipping cream, and 50g sugar.

The custard on the left was made with 1.5g (0.3%) lambda carrageenan and 0.5g (0.1%) iota carrageenan. The custard on the right side was made with 1.5g lambda, 1.5g iota.

As a result of the higher iota on the custard on the right side, it’s structure is more rigid, and resembles high fat yogurt. The custard on the left, with lower iota, resembles that of a loose yogurt.

Why use 2 kinds of carrageenan? The reason for using 2 different kinds is that each carrageenan has its own function. Lambda is there for the mouthfeel. Lambda is perhaps one of the best carrageenans for adding a rich, creamy mouthfeel because despite the texture being thick, it does not impart a pasty texture. It is rich, but clean. This is due to it’s very low melting temperature. It quickly melts away in your mouth. The iota is there to provide a little bit of structure and body.

If I only used lambda, then the appearance would me more like a creme anglais. If that is the goal then by all means, just use lambda.

If I only used iota:

Arguably, you can use just a very low amount of iota and still get a similar appearance to the custard on the left. However, the flavour release would be much weaker. Iota carrageenan gels in dairy, and as a result, will hold on to the flavour compounds. Lambda does not gel, so flavours are released much faster.

Another point to add if you only used iota is that mouthfeel will be different. Since it has a higher melting point, it will be a little pasty in texture, and the fattiness will also linger in the mouth a little longer. If this was in a composed dish, other flavours may be muted since your tongue is coated with the custard.

If you are curious to try lambda carrageenan, you can find it in our available ingredients section.




Pudding – no egg, no starch. Using iota carrageenan

This recipe was made in preparation for a dinner I’m cooking in UK. No crazy flavour combinations again, just new ways of delivering those flavours. So, a pudding with no egg or and starch. Why? Well, I don’t really like the texture of starch, that’s one thing. For the egg, I love eggs, but funny enough, it’s considered an allergen in Canada. Personally, I don’t care about that part, but I suppose this was just a quick challenge I wanted to do. To make something familiar while removing many of its familiar components.

So the pudding is now made with only 4 ingredients – light cream (5% fat), dark chocolate (70% coco), sugar and iota carrageenan. The result? Pudding that just very very quickly melts in your mouth, with an extremely rich texture, but with lower fat content. Hey, I think I should start talking to some retirement homes.

Admittedly, the lack of starch and egg makes the pudding a bit loose. I tried it with tara gum added. It became thicker, but the texture suffered – it wasn’t as rich, and became slightly pasty.

Also in this recipe are some orange caramels, recipe from a very good friend and pastry chef Shane Harper, and some quince mostarda Shane gave me a few months back.

Though, I decided not to bring the mostarda with me to UK. I’m keeping that shit for myself.

Chocolate pudding, orange caramel, quince mostarda, freeze dried chocolate mousse.

iota carrageenan for coconut milk foam

So today was a good day. Lots of work on recipe development for a dinner in UK. One of the courses I wanted to do was a scallop dish. I thought of using some tried and true flavour pairings for it – saffron, coconut, squid ink, and shallots. Now, All I had to do was to find the method of delivery. The first thought worked quite well, caramelized shallot puree then mixed with squid ink. You can taste both flavours and it looks great!

The coconut milk and saffron infusion was the one where I was doing a lot more exploring. I first thought of making it a sauce, using some lambda carrageenan. Lambda has perhaps the best melt-in-your-mouth texture out of all the carrageenans. Problem is it melts too quickly. A yogurt looking coconut and saffron infusion all of a sudden turns into a big yellow puddle on a hot plate. So I thought of iota. Almost as rich in texture, but slightly higher melting point. The initial appearance didn’t blow me away. Then I thought what the heck, might as well try putting it in an isi. WOW. Did that ever turn out for the best. It produces an extremely stable foam, but when you eat it, its very quick to dissolve. This is how a foam should be. No one should feel like they are about to swallow a mouthful of air. And it should be a foam, not a pile of large bubbles.

With that said, here’s the end result. No crazy equipment used this time. Just some old techniques mixed with some modern ingredients. Plating still needs work, though, I kinda like it’s minimalist appearance.