Here is yet another culinary technique. Critics often view foams as over-fussy, unnecessary, and a little outdated, as the technique has been used for centuries. However, when harnessed appropriately, foams can add wonderful textural nuance to a dish, and textural nuance should always be encouraged when it comes to creating multi-layered, interesting food. Read ahead to know more about the art of creating a foam, like a chef.
Essentially, foams are just aerated liquids, and their density will depend on the thickness of the liquid and the ratio of liquid to air. A lighter foam may be more accurately described as froth, such as the head of a beer or cappuccino. On the other hand, a denser foam will resemble mousse. But whether you are striving for froth foam, mousse foam, or even ‘air’, the methods are likely to be similar.
Though it is possible to create foams without the use of artificial stabilisers (as with eggs, milk, butter), the introduction of ingredients such as lecithin, paved the way for chefs to prepare less-stable liquids (stocks, sauces, juices). Lecithin works in a similar way to the proteins in egg and milk, acting as an emulsifier to hold the shape of the foam. The amount you disperse into the liquid should depend on how stiff you want it to be. Whether using lecithin or alternatives such as agar, gellan gum and gelatine, though, it is important to note that for a liquid to translate into a foam it must contain elements of either lecithin, monoglycerides (emulsifying fats), or protein.
Creating a culinary foam is easier than it looks. There are two main implements that are used to make a foam. One of them, you may already have, that is the handheld immersion blender. This particular tool is expert at whipping up lighter foams (froth). For denser foams, it is probably wise to invest in an espuma gun, which is designed for this very task and uses gas canisters of N2O (Nitrous Oxide).