28.4.08

Tapioca 'Faux Caviar'

Inspired by a technique I recently saw (over and over) on this season's Top Chef, I decided to try a little experiment today involving a 'faux caviar' made using tapioca pearls.

To begin, I needed some uncooked tapioca pearls (not the instant stuff that usually populates grocery store shelves) and my local Sun Harvest had just the stuff.

Before treating the tapioca to an assortment of flavorful baths, I added 1/2 cup of the pearls to 2 quarts of boiling water and cooked about 25 minutes (until the pearls were mostly translucent with an opaque center.)


When the pearls reached my desired level of doneness, I transferred them to a strainer and rinsed them in cold water. Once they had drained, I took approximately 1 Tablespoon of cooked pearls and added them to 2 Tablespoons of liquid. For this experiment I decided to test soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, chili oil and pomegranate juice. I let the pearls soak in their respective liquids for several hours at room temperature, before draining and tasting.

All of the liquids delivered beautiful color and the pearls look amazingly like caviar. While the soy, both balsamics and chili oil were delicious, I would change the pomegranate recipe from juice to pomegranate molasses in the future to achieve a more potent, sweeter flavor that the juice did not impart, although it did give them a lovely color.

These 'faux caviar' add nice flavor, gorgeous presentation, and could be used in many applications. They hold their shape and texture quite well and could be made and stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for several days.
Clockwise from top: pomegranate juice, soy sauce, white balsamic, balsamic and chili oil (center.)

8 comments:

Audra A. said...

This looks like so much fun! I think I might have to try this for a house party sometime....& by the way I think your new culinary site is great!

j.s. said...

check this out: http://buzzfeed.com/peggy/caviar-cocktails

ca-razy, eh?

Sheila said...

I am finishing my culinary degree and did faux caviar in garde manger this week. We used the chemical method (sodium alginate and calcium choloride to make a flavored faux caviar with raspberry puree. I think this sounds easier and it will hold better. I can't wait to try--the concept is awsome.

marvin said...

hi there,
can u give me a recipe of the faux caviar.. or put the photo and show the steps for me pls...
sheila's are using the chemical method..would u like to show the result when u r done.. or e-mail to me... mavi1226@live.hk please
thanks everyone mavi

Joanne said...

Any suggestions on how to use this method with chocolate? I've been trying to find a recipe similar to this one, but to give the pearls a chocolate flavor. Any suggestions would be great.
Also, I'm curious if this could somehow work with herbs, say a basil puree or something?
Thanks!

sparklepants industries said...

for joanne...
maybe soak the pearls in a chocolate liqueur?

Chantal said...

That is so cool! I just bought some tapioca pearls today, it'll be the first time I use them and this looks like a fun way to start.

olen said...

I kind of disagree with calling a chocolate concoction caviar rather than chocolate tapioca. Some other comments: I did not find that this lasts more than a day or so in the refrigerator. The tapioca continues to absorb the liquid and ends up as tapioca pudding. But for 24 hours or so it can still be used by adding a touch of liquid before serving, if it has started to thicken like pudding. Last suggestion is to consider the taste of caviar: salty and slightly fishy. I had good results by adding a small amount of oriental oyster sauce to the soy sauce marinade. Don't overdo it, but a touch works well. Also, to keep the salt down a bit, I suggest light soy. Except that the tapioca pearls don't burst in your mouth like caviar eggs, the taste and texture is quite amazing...for a few cents a serving.