What does Jamon Iberico, olive oil caviar, and water purified in a volcano have in common? They’re all ingredients in Salinas’s Ajoblancho, aka white gazpacho. Chef Luis Bollo of Salinas in Chelsea has a certain flair for taking traditional Spanish cuisine and adding a touch of gastronomy and a hint of fancy. The ajoblanco (or white gazpacho to those of us without a Spanish tongue) he was kind enough to make for us in the kitchen of his latest restaurant, is a great example.
If you don’t know, a gazpacho is basically an excuse to eat soup in the summer. Served cold with a base of water, tomatoes (or other fruits/vegetables), and bread to thicken it, it’s a refreshing, light dish that helps take some of the heat off a scorching day a tad more than, say, some three-alarm chili.
Following the traditional Spanish technique of making it, Chef Bollo, starts with the bread, water (not just any water mind you, but Sant Aniol, water from volcanic rocks in Spain) and grapes for the base. He then adds almonds, green and regular garlic, olive oil, his sherry and chardonnay vinegars, and ice before blending it up and pouring it into a bowl. It’s at this point, he then adds that aforementioned flair.
Some might just serve the gazpacho as is or maybe with a slight drizzling of olive oil on top and call it a day, but no. Chef Bollo, once referred to as “…arguably the first chef to bring modernist Spanish cuisine to New York…” can’t leave it there. Olive oil caviar, anyone? Made by dropping olive oil into some sodium alginate, these little pearls of green pop in your mouth creating little tidal waves of fantastic oily goodness on your tongue as you eat them. Touch of gastronomy? Check. He then fries up some Jamon Iberico (or $50 a pound ham from special pigs in a specific region of Spain for those of us without a Spanish tongue) and puts the crisp slivers on top of the finished soup next to the “caviar.” Hint of fancy? Um, double-check. The results? A delicious and refreshing soup steeped in tradition with just enough modernism to kick it up a little on the food evolutionary ladder.
Despite his busy schedule, Chef Bollo showed us how to make this gazpacho on a recent trip to Salinas and allowed us to film it for you guys. Here’s the full recipe and video below (feel free to use fried prosciutto and regular olive oil if your cupboard is running a bit low on ham of the Iberico variety and sodium alginate).
I have to say, as a bit of a nerd myself, I always appreciate the evolution of things through science, but I do still have a deep appreciation for the traditional ways of doing things as well. Its seems that Chef Bollo and Salinas are trying to find where those two things reach a harmony. So far, it seems they’re succeeding.
Head here for the White Gazpacho Recipe by Salinas NYC