High on food

Why only drink alcohol when you can eat it too! Alcohol can prove to be one of the most versatile ingredients when whipping up some gourmet dishes.

Published: 05th February 2022 08:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th February 2022 08:43 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

HYDERABAD:  Why only drink alcohol when you can eat it too! Alcohol can prove to be one of the most versatile ingredients when whipping up some gourmet dishes. From marinating, enhancing to emulsifying and topping, different types of alcohol can be used in different dishes and a range of cuisines. 

Most times, alcohol is used in gourmet food to serve the purpose of ‘flambe’. “Flambe is a procedure where any alcoholic beverage is added to a hot pan to get a burst of flames. It serves two purposes — help with the flame and add to the taste. They usually add vodka or white rum to the pan to bring that smoked flavour to your food,” explains chef Cyril Clement, HOD, Culinary at Regency College of Culinary Arts & Hotel Management. 

The flamed pizzas served at Amnesia in Jubilee Hills, follow this method. “We use vodka or whisky to create the flame, based on what the customer prefers. What we do is add the beverage just before serving and not while making the pizza. This is because the base could get soggy. The flame is put off soon after it is served so that it doesn’t reach the base of the pizza. It is to be consumed immediately, so your first bite has this burst of pizza and the alcohol’s flavours,” shares Kunal Kukreja, managing partner at Amnesia.

Chef Cyril explains that different kinds of cuisines demand different beverages to go with them. “For example, you will notice that French food is mostly served with wine. It’s paired with the kind of beverage used in cooking the food. French cuisine uses a lot of red meat such as lamb and beef, so they use wine to compliment the flavours. Similarly, the Germans prefer to use beer in and with their food, because of their kind of meat they use, eg. sausages. So, various factors like the culture, country and cuisine come into play while choosing an alcohol.”

The rule of thumb, chef Cyril says, when using alcohol, ensure it’s not mixed directly into the food, but added to the base of the dish. “If you are using it for salads, add it to the dressing and not the vegetables directly. Similarly, it can also be used to make various kinds of sauces.”

Chef Varun MB, executive chef at Novotel Hyderabad Airport, loves cooking with alcohol. Some of the dishes he enjoys making are chicken coq au vin, chicken cacciatore, chicken marsala, swiss cheese fondue, wine poached pears and drunken prawns. He says that it primarily helps in the tenderisation of meat and adds a unique flavour to a dish. For him, adding alcohol to his dishes means ‘fun’. 

“It gives me scope to create new dishes. Every kind of alcohol plays a different role in preparing food. People use beer while making soups to add a unique flavour to them. People have also been using it in the making of exotic chocolate flavours. Vodka is sometimes used to make pasta sauce, especially as the base in tomato sauces.” 

He adds that vodka helps get better crusts for pies and desserts. “But, be careful about the quantity, as overdoing it can spoil the overall taste of the dish.”

From marinating, enhancing to emulsifying and topping, different types of alcohol are used in different dishes and a range of cuisines. Chefs in the city explain the culinary science behind why spirits can take your cooking to the next level



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