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Choice of alcohol for flambing

Archie Heron
Choice of alcohol for flambing

In principle, any strong alcohol is suitable for flambing. The minimum ethanol content, which produces enough vapour to ignite, is about 40%, which is the amount of vodka, rum or whisky. Of course, the use of stronger alcohol is also permitted.

Flambing - a word about choosing alcohol

In principle, any strong alcohol is suitable for flambing. The minimum ethanol content, which produces enough vapour to ignite, is about 40%, which is the amount of vodka, rum or whisky. Of course, it is also acceptable to use stronger alcohol, as well as alcoholic distillates (rum is usually stronger too). The only problem may be the selection of alcohol appropriate for a particular dish.

Why bother with the choice?

Perhaps you remember one of the articles where I wrote about the content of impurities in the distillates. These were mainly esters, ketones and aldehydes, i.e. organic compounds with a distinct taste and smell. They are found in large quantities in every unrectified distillate, so in rum or whisky. Vodka is usually made from rectified spirit (unlike moonshine, which I have already written about in the past), so there is no such impurities. And what does this lead us to: what remains in the dish after flambing. And it is precisely these impurities that will remain, which will give a subtle, because subtle, but still changing taste. That's why you should choose the alcohol that matches the food you are flambing.

Examples of combinations

Rum is an excellent alcohol for flambing sweet dishes: fruit desserts, ice cream or drinks with sweet juices. It is with rum that you can prepare the simplest flamboyant "dish", i.e. peeled fruit sprinkled with sugar (it can be cane, for a fuller taste and a better harmony with rum, also from the produced cane), all of which is watered with rum and set on fire. Fried bananas and peaches are also flamed with rum.

Shrimps and other delicate seafood, as well as the finest rabbit meat, which is prepared (mainly suffocated) in white wine sauces, is flambored with a glass of cognac. Beef steaks are well flamboyant in Scotch whisky. American whisky does not give such a good effect anymore. Because of its similarity to Scotch, it is equally good to use Japanese whiskey.

A classic, very impressive flamboyant dish is the whole chicken roasted in chanterelle sauce on white wine. Since the whole dish has delicate "forest" notes (wood, mushrooms, baked chicken and all this with a hint of wine), the alcohol that will work best in this case will be brandy. A glass poured directly onto the chicken is enough.

Flambing in European cuisine was mainly applied not to desserts as it is today, but to the most lavish dishes. Of course, such dishes were (and unfortunately this has not changed until today) game dishes, and classic ones were like the comber of sog. The best alcohol for flambing is strong juniper liqueur. Alternatively, gin can be used - less sensitive palates will not feel the difference, and even more sensitive will only feel a little bit sorry.

Egg dishes are also very often flamboyant: pancakes and omelets. Here the choice of alcohols is considerable: when it comes to sweet dishes, rum is definitely the rule, while in the case of dry dishes, a lot depends on the dominant taste notes of the dish.

It is worth knowing each other.

Of course, the examples above remain only examples. Many dishes can be flamboyant, and for each one you should use the one specific alcohol that will best blend in with the set of ingredients. However, the trial and error method would take a lot of time and would not necessarily lead you to the right solution, so I encourage you to learn how to produce all the alcohols - it will allow you to learn how to predict their taste, and then flambing will be much easier.

Archie Heron
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