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Daring Cooks Challenge: Molecular Cuisine-Sole with Powdered Flavors

This was the first Daring Cooks Challenge I participated in and boy was it a doozy!  We were supposed to use skate for the fish, but skate is bad news for sustainable seafood, as were cod and flounder, the other two suggestions.  I asked Casson Trenor what I should substitute and he suggested sanddabs, lobster or turbot.  My local fishmonger unfortunately didn’t have sanddabs or turbot, and the lobster was too pricey.  But they had sole, which is less of a risk than skate.   Here’s what our host Sketchy said about the challenge:

This is a dish from Grant Achatz, found in the Alinea cookbook – page 230. I picked a recipe that could be completed without having to order a bunch of specialized chemicals or powders. Just a little work and you can make this, the techniques are not very hard and only require a few tools.

Rather than post the entire really long recipe for you, here’s the recipe if you want to make it yourself.  Here’s the list of ingredients used to give you an idea:

Sole, Traditional Flavors Powderedwith changes

  • 4 sole fillets
  • * Beurre monte
  • * 300g fresh green beans
  • sea salt/kosher salt
  • 1 banana
  • 454g butter – 4 sticks
  • 300g lemons
  • 5g citric acid/vitamin c tablet
  • 150g cilantro
  • 150g parsley
  • 100g dried banana chips
  • 300g spray dried cream powder (or powdered milk)
  • 100g cup minced red onion
  • 200g capers (brined, not oil)

I definitely had a hard time with this and would say it was about a 75% success.  I made a PERFECT beurre monte which I’ve never tried before.  I really liked the way the beans turned out, and two sole fillets cost me only $2 so I’ll be buying them in the future to play with other ways of cooking.  The brown butter powder worked really well.  I had to buy a trail mix with banana chips because I couldn’t get just banana chips without making a special trip.

My orange zest powder turned out awesome, after having a disaster with trying to dry the sticky poached lemon zest, I just mixed the orange zest I used with some sugar.  It worked way better.  My big problem was that I didn’t have a food dehydrator, and wasn’t going to leave my oven on for hours.  It took a lot of microwaving, stirring, checking and re-microwaving to get the powders and finally I was hungry and just kind of gave up on getting the other three powders perfect.  If did this again I’d definitely borrow a food dehydrator, but it was fun to learn to do.

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11 thoughts on “Daring Cooks Challenge: Molecular Cuisine-Sole with Powdered Flavors”

  1. DI, I think you did a terrific job – the powders are so bright and lovely! Plus, awesome photographs! Congrats on your first DC challenge, and you’re right, what a doozy!

  2. Wow your photos are fabulous and so bright and clear – very professional!!! No I think you did a 99/100 job on this challenge and bravo making it with a microwave oven. Cheers and bravo yours Audax

  3. Congrats on your first challenge! It was my first, too, and I feel like we got the longer end of the stick… surely the next few challenge will feel like a piece of cake compared to this one!

  4. I love your blog, and I have learned so more. Could you teach me more, about sustainable fish please! If not, no biggie I know you are super busy. Thanks a million.


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