This Sriracha Spherification Caviar is a fun and simple way to use molecular gastronomy to spruce up your cooking! Perfect for sprinkling over salads, eggs, or pasta.
I’d never heard of “molecular gastronomy” until my fine-dining lover of a boyfriend introduced the concept to me. I’m still not entirely sure what exactly molecular gastronomy entails except fancy, scientific ways of preparing food.
So I was feeling especially adventurous and decided to try my hand at one of the molecular gastronomic (gastronomical? gastronomy?) methods known as cold oil spherification. You essentially drop some hot hydrophilic (water) stuff in cold hydrophobic (oil) stuff, causing the droplets of water to quickly close in on themselves into a perfect, hard ball, closely resembling caviar.
Supplies to make spherical sriracha pearls
- Agar-Agar (a substance derived from algae that acts much like gelatin): $4, find it in the Asian/Ethnic section of your grocery, or in an Asian supermarket. You’ll want the powdered form.
- Medicine dropper: $1, find it in the pharmacy section of your grocery or drugstore
Tips to make spherical sriracha
- Really cold oil. You’ll need to use a flavorless oil, like canola, and pop it in the freezer for a few hours until it’s thick.
- Hot agar solution. In this case we’re using a combination of sriracha and water to dissolve the agar-agar.
- The perfect height. You’ll drop the hot sriracha solution, one droplet at a time, into the cold oil. The height must be perfect; too high and your droplets shatter into baby droplets, too low and your droplets don’t sink below the surface. 5 inches above the oil seems to be a sweet spot.
- A tall glass. Your droplets need to cool completely before reaching the bottom of the cold oil. Use the tallest glass you have!
This (obviously) took me many attempts to finally get (sort of) right. And it works with sriracha, but I haven’t had the chance to experiment with other tasties yet.
And this is also a bit different than basic spherification, which involves submerging a substance with sodium alginate into a calcium bath. The spherification we’re doing today produces solid “caviar” balls, while basic spherification creates a solid coating around a liquid inside. Maybe we’ll try that one day too.
So if you’re ready to impress the hell out of your friends and win the hearts of sriracha lovers everywhere, whip up these sizzling sriracha science experiments…Sriracha Spherification Caviar!
Sriracha Spherification Caviar
- 1/4 cup sriracha sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tbsp agar-agar
- 1 cup cold canola oil
- 1 cup cold water
- Place oil in a tall glass and chill in freezer until a bit sludgy (about 3 hours).
- In a small saucepan, bring sriracha, 1/4 cup water, and agar-agar to a slow simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. If mixture begins to smoke, remove pan from stove, reduce heat, then continue cooking.
- Simmer for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat and pour mixture into a small bowl.
- Draw sriracha mixture into your medicine dropper tool. Drop sriracha solution, one droplet at a time, into cold oil from about 5 inches from the surface of the oil.
- When you’ve used all your sriracha mixture, strain the caviar by pouring the oil + caviar glass over either a perforated or wire mesh spoon or bowl.
- Place strained caviars into bowl of ice water to remove remaining oil, then strain from water and serve!
- You may want to keep a reserve glass of oil in the freezer in case the sriracha droplets begin to heat your cold oil. If you notice your caviars are starting to turn out funky, grab your spare cold oil and keep on going.
- Work quickly! As the sriracha mixture cools, the caviar strays further and further from the perfectly round form that you want.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Use to garnish any dish from eggs to Bloody Mary’s.