Video: “Cooking” Herbs and Vegetables with Liquid Nitrogen

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I have spent the last 11 months pestering Chef Sang Yoon (Father’s Office, Lukshon) to come on Good Food and explain cryo-blanching. This week my persistence paid off and finally, he capitulated.

Sang and liquid nitrogen

Cryo-blanching can also be called “cold-boiling.” It’s a technique that Sang learned from Alex Talbot who writes the blog Ideas in Food. Essentially, blanching herbs and vegetables in liquid nitrogen (which is -325 degrees Fahrenheit) will achieve the same result as blanching them in boiling water, but because the vegetables are not being heated they will retain their raw flavor. The benefit to blanching herbs this way is two-fold. Like regular blanching, it sets the color and softens the cell structure; but unlike blanching in boiling water, the herbs will not absorb any liquid nor will they lose any flavor to the boiling water.

If you’ve ever eaten a frozen pea you’ve eaten something that has been cryo-blanched. The frozen food industry has been using this technique for years. Chefs are slowly adopting it for culinary applications in restaurants. If you’re curious, go try Sang’s cryo-blanched asparagus right now in the asparagus salad at Father’s Office.

Check out the video of Sang cryo-blanching herbs at KCRW below. And please, don’t try this at home…

Listen to Sang explain cryo-blanching in further detail below: