The gastronomic bath of thermal waters

Carla Vidal


The chef Miguel González, in collaboration with the University of Vigo, is studying how to transfer the benefits of the thermal waters of Orense to the kitchen, until he achieves a "thermal map"

Thermal water is a treasure, and Miguel González, chef at the Miguel González* restaurant (O Pereiro de Aguiar, Orense), has embarked on a special "battle" to create a "thermal map". "There is no single dish that defines the people of Orense, but it turns out that we have spas that, in addition to their tourist potential, could become a gastronomic reference", explained the chef during his presentation at Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España. "It is good that we do these therapies in the spa, but if we can transfer these benefits to gastronomy and food, we'll be doing something we haven't done before", he claimed.

The Galician chef went to the University of Vigo to carry out an in-depth study into the benefits and peculiarities of using thermal water in the kitchen. Since they started, "better colours, textures, and flavours have been some of the surprises of using thermal water in cooking", he points out. But the use of thermal water goes beyond that, as it also allows a more sustainable cuisine. "For example, to boil water at 100 degrees we have to wait two minutes, but if you do it with thermal water from Burga, which comes out at 67 degrees, you start at 67 degrees and the boiling time is reduced to half a minute", he explains.

The first results of the research, carried out with Dr Sidonia and Dr Reyes, have shown that the thermal waters of Orense are not all the same, because "they do not contain the same minerals". And the use of this water in cooking is infinite, and as varied as the existing culinary techniques. "It enhances colour, firmness, umami, and enriches the product with minerals", he says. In addition, thermal water offers "greater purity in terms of whitening, and boosts and accelerates fermentation". A research and development project "that we hope will provide us with the necessary data to create a thermal map that will tell us the qualities of each water, and the possibilities it offers us in the kitchen. Each chef or baker will then be able to use it as they wish".

To demonstrate that he has already applied these advances in his own kitchen, Miguel González presented a thermal coconut with a kind of tartar made from the body of the coconut cooked in thermal water, to which he added a kind of flan "with the livers of the coconut blanched in thermal water", and emulsified water from herbs found on the way to the hot springs, such as "lavender, chamomile or rosemary". And finally, the antennae, legs, and ink of the cuttlefish to complete a dish that can only be prepared in Orense.

And Miguel González did not want to end his presence at Madrid Fusión without paying a little tribute to his grandfather, to whom he dedicated a fermented apple pudding with walnuts and pineapple in ice cream form, a punch emulsion, some meringues and some roses. All with the thermal water used in each preparation.






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