Kitchen Wasteland 1

Don’t worry. Mike is still in charge of post-apocalyptic science fiction reviews.

But, let’s face it. Science doesn’t always pay well. Graduate school doesn’t. Post docs certainly don’t. Adjunct teaching? Don’t make me laugh. Science communication can be more feast than famine.

What I am trying to say is that the odds are good that you are living in a small apartment with a small kitchen and on a small food budget. In which case, good friend of The Finch & Pea‘s executive chef, Joel Gamoran, has got you covered in the first episode of his new cooking web series “Kitchen Wasteland”.

Joel was also kind enough to take some time to explain the science behind his recipe to me.

Me: What is happening when you add the pepper to the pan on it’s own?

Joel: The black pepper undergoes two major reactions happening when toasting in the dry pan. First, essential oils are released when agitated with heat. This is what gives the spice the smell that fills the kitchen. Second, oleoresins are released, which gives the spice a toasty and unique flavor.

Me: What is the water doing to soften the pasta and why can you get away with using so little?

Joel: The water’s boiling temperature of 212F triggers the starch molecules in pasta. The pasta swells. It also releases starch into the water making the cloudy thick substance chefs know and love as starchy water. The starch in the water makes the liquid really viscous and it coats whatever it touches. In the case of a pasta dish, it makes a most thick and concentrated sauce that absolutely shames the conventional method of cooking pasta.

Author: Josh Witten

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