Ángel León, on the stage at Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión 2019, reveals a culinary technique that revolutionises the way we see salt.
Ángel León, chef at Aponiente, considers that his career came to a turning-point in 2007 when, while diving, he discovered a coral that looked like an underwater bunch of flowers. That was when he started to build a future for his restaurant based on exploring what else was hidden beneath the sea – marine fruits, legumes, cereals?
He hasn’t found them yet, but he’s still looking. This year his cuisine includes new ingredients that come close to flowers: for example, his “marine celery” that they are currently pickling; another seaweed in the shape of a pear, like one of those flowers he was dreaming of, his “marine currants”, “sea radishes” and “marine tomato”. All are examples of the way he sees the sea.
And it is that way of looking that allows him to discover products such as the pea crab, a pest that eats oysters, absorbing all their flavour. It is crisp, and has a pure oyster taste. Another of the new ingredients.
But the topic of his talk today is salt, a product that exists all over the world and in our own bodies and that no-one gets excited about. León has found a way to spark that excitement. In Cádiz salt takes two months to form on the salt marshes. Ángel wondered if we could cut the process short, buy up, capture, take over the crystallisation time.
At Aponiente they have learnt to saturate the salt from sea water, which crystallises before the eyes of the observers. But there’s still more. He manages, by combining different salts, to get the crystallisation to rise in temperature and to cook while it crystallises. Pure magic. Beautiful. Amazing.
Another fact, for chefs. The combination needed is: table salt, plus sodium-free table salt, calcium chloride, vinegar salt, and fresh salt.
This is the mixture that works the miracle. From August, it will be on sale at the restaurant.