This dish plays with the various textures of one main ingredient – beetroot. It uses several hydrocolloids to thicken and gel beetroot juice, stabilise beetroot foam and create a beetroot emulsion. Contrary to the common belief that hydrocolloids are “evil chemicals” that can make your food less healthy, all of the agents used in Open Sauces are of marine, plant, or microbial origin. This bite-sized amuse-bouche is served in a tasting spoon, so that the whole dish is eaten in one mouthful. Inspired by molecular gastronomy experiments at El Bulli and hydrocolloid recipes by Martin Lersch (http://khymos.org/recipe-collection.php), the dish is composed of one beetroot crisp, with one drop of beetroot mayonnaise, one swirl of beetroot maltagliati and a small spoonful of beetroot air.

Since Roman times, beetroot juice has been considered an aphrodisiac. It is a rich source of the mineral boron, which plays an important role in the production of human sex hormones. … From the Middle Ages, beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of conditions, especially illnesses relating to digestion and the blood. —Wikipedia, “Beet” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beet)

  • 250 g beetroot juice
  • 4.8 g gellan (E418)
  • Bunch of green peppercorns

Combine all three ingredients and bring to the boil. Take out the peppercorn bunch. Pour the boiling liquid quickly onto a flat tray (gel sets rapidly). Allow to cool. Cut into variously sized strips (like maltagliati).

E418, Gellan is a natural polysaccharide obtained by fermentation of Sphingomonas elodea. It’s a thickening agent (if not heated) and a thermo-reversible gelling agent when heated above 85°C

  • 225 g beetroot juice
  • 275 g water
  • 1.5 g lecithin (E322)

Mix all ingredients. Beat with a hand-held mixer on the surface of the liquid. Leave to stabilise for a minute. Use a spoon to gently collect the froth on top of the liquid.

Lecithin is a phospholipid naturally occurring in egg yolks and soy beans. Emulsifier and stabiliser of water oil/fat mixtures, including foams and airs.

  • 100 g beetroot purée
  • 100 g parsley infused grapeseed oil
  • 1 g sucrose esters (Sucro, E473)
  • 1 g monoglyceride (Glice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Infuse oil with parsley (chop the leaves, mix with oil, heat to 70°C au bain-marie, filter out the leaves). Boil the beetroot until soft. Purée beetroot with salt and pepper. Add sucro and blend, leave to rest. Heat oil to 60°C, add Glice and cool down. Blend the beetroot purée with a strong soup-blender, adding oil to the purée drip by drip (use pipet). The mayonnaise will increase in density in a few hours. Best to leave it in the fridge overnight.

Sucro (Texturas) is obtained through esterification of saccharose in fatty acids. Very stable hydrophilic emulsifier for oil in water emulsions.

Glice (Texturas) is obtained from glycerine and fatty acids. Oil-soluble emulsifying agent, stabilising both watery and oily emulsions.

  • 25 slices of beetroot
  • Pinch of fleur de sel
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Safflower, rapeseed or sunflower oil (for frying)

Peel the beets, then slice them as thinly as possible, using a mandoline (or a grater). The thinner the slices, the crispier the crisps. Put about 10–15 cm of oil in a deep, heavy pot (it should be about half-full). Heat the oil to 190°C. Fry the beet slices in small batches until lightly crisped, turning them occasionally with a slotted metal spoon. Take the crisps out of the oil before they’re well done – they will become crispier as they cool. Drain the beet slices on paper towels and sprinkle them with a little salt and pepper.

Our beetroots, beetroot juice, parsley and fleur de sel came from Den Theepot (http://www.bioshop.be/winkels/brussel.html) and local markets in Molenbeek and around Midi/Zuid Station in Brussels. The green peppercorn was sourced from the Asian supermarket Kam Yuen (St. Katelijnestraat, 1000 Brussels). In this recipe we used Australian native pepper (for its purple colour), but any coarsely-ground pepper will suffice. The Australian pepper came from the Adelaide Central Market (http://www.adelaidecentralmarket.com.au). We found the hydrocolloids online through Albert & Ferran Adria’s site (http://www.albertyferranadria.com) and at Mmmmh (http://www.mmmmh.be). We used freshly filtered tap water.

(an sidebar recipe)