I used to eat a fair number of cheetos as a kid. The light crisp texture and the staining orange cheese powder were too addictive to avoid. Over time I have leaned towards the simple salinity and crispness of potato chips rather then the puffed crunch of cheetos. Recently I have become interested in the light as air nature of puffed materials. The spark has come from several sources. Reiko, Aki’s mom, continues to send a variety of Japanese snacks with intense flavors and light as air texture. I have read about though not eaten the various puffs/crisps produced by Grant Achatz and team Alinea. I have also revisited the El Bulli book 1998-2002 which features a number of puffed snacks. These three have been the key influences in wanting to tackle the notion of puffed fried crisps. Actually, to me they have become crackling’ varietals.
I had much difficulty in sourcing a base recipe for what I wanted to do. In retrospect, I have a variety books which had the answer, I was just looking at the problem from the wrong angle. So, I must thank, Chef Sean Brock of McCrady’s restaurant, Shola Olunloyo of Studio Kitchen fame andNathan Myhrvold a serious gastronome with a knack for finding enough research to answer almost any question.
With that said, I took the information from these three individuals and was able to work out a base recipe for ramp kimchee cracklings. Each added some specific insight which enabled me to generate a recipe for my immediate needs. Now of course I have a huge number of variations to explore from clam chowder to passionfruit.
Here is our recipe:
200g coarse ground tapioca
220g moist ramp kimchee
20g kimchee liquid
Puree the three ingredients in a food processor until a smooth dough is formed. Divide the dough into two portions and roll into thin cylinders about an inch in diameter. Place the cylinder on a sheet of plastic wrap and cover with another sheet. Roll the cylinder out into a flat thin sheet. The dough should be nearly translucent. Repeat with the other cylinder. Steam the dough sheets, still in plastic, in a steamer for fifteen minutes. We are able to use a hotel pan to make a long steamer so both sheets fit lengthwise on top of each other. If you have a smaller steamer, cut the sheets into portions that fit in your steamer. Once the dough is steamed, remove it from the plastic wrap and lay it out on a parchment lined rack on a sheet pan to allow for even airflow. Place the pan in a 180 degree F oven and allow the dough to dry. Flip the dough sheets occasionally to allow for even drying. When the sheets are completely dry and brittle, remove them from the oven and allow to cool. Break or cut the dough crisps into pieces and then fry in 350 degree F oil. The crisps will puff quickly and triple in size. Remove from the oil onto a paper towel lined rack. Season the crisps lightly with salt. Enjoy.