Salad with Flash cooked Vegetables

Salad with baby spinach, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and flash cooked vegetables in lemon vinaigrette.
"Flash Cooking is an OPOS technique of cooking food at the highest possible heat at the lowest possible time." - Rama Krishnan.
The results are dramatic. The colour, texture and flavour are un-comparable. This technique was found by Rama Krishnan. His untiring experiments that he also shares with us in the FB group - United By Food.
It is so easy. Just follow what's given. And for those who want to experience rather than experiment, please go to Pizza Republic at Eldams road and attend the 1-day workshop.

I tried it, and am truly humbled. The techniques learnt have unchained me from the stove. By the time I complete the (minimal) cleaning, the cooking is done as well. It has been a boon and have experienced some jaw-dropping (friends were truly surprised) moments during my holidays. I love cooking and am known to be fast and efficient in the kitchen. But this is totally another level.

Vegetables - 250 grams vegetables
Oil - 2 teaspoon
Water - 2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon

In a 2 litre pressure cooker take oil and water.
Add the vegetables. Sprinkle salt on top.
Pressure cook at high heat for 2 whistles.
Release pressure immediately by carefully lifting the weight.
Transfer to a cold pan.
Use as needed for poriyal/kootu, etc.
Flash cooked asparagus and snow peas.

The following is a thorough explanation of the science behind the technique.
"Cooking normally results in the loss of colour of vegetables and fruits. Cooking methods like boiling, frying, grilling, steaming and roasting result in a loss of colours. 
Fruits and vegetables have three kinds of colouring pigments. They are (1) Chlorophyll – green pigment, (2) Carotenoids –pigments ranging from yellow to deep red, and (3) the Flavonoids: (i) anthocyanins – red, blue or purple pigments according to the pH, and (ii) anthoxanthin – white pigment. These are found in varying amounts depending on the stage of ripening.
Chlorophyll is the green colour of the leaves. It is also present in fruits and vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kiwi fruit and green apples. Chlorophyll is fat soluble and will be washed out during stir frying with oils. Chlorophyll is also affected by the length of cooking. When the chlorophyll containing vegetables are heated, the air trapped in the tissues escape first. This makes the vegetables bright green in colour initially. If we stop cooking at this stage, we can retain that bright colour. That is what flash cooking does by keeping the cooking short. If you cook longer, the other chemicals in the fruit or vegetable will be released and convert the chlorophyll into less bright compounds like Pheophytins. This makes the colour dull and eventually becomes a yellowish hue.
Moral 1 of the story : To keep the green colour cook for a short time with little or no oil.
The carotenoid pigments are found in lemons, oranges, strawberries and in veggies like capsicum, carrot etc. They are also fat soluble and hence can be lost by stir frying. More importantly they are easily affected by oxidation. So any cooking which brings these veggies in long contact with atmospheric oxygen will fade them away. When you cook in a closed vessel, the steam fills the vessel and keeps the oxygen out and prevents the loss of colour due to oxidation.
Moral 2 of the story : To keep the colour of the carotenoids, keep the oxygen out.
The flavonoids called anthocyanins and anthoxanthins are present in brinjals, apples, onions, cauliflowers, potatoes etc. These are water soluble and will be washed away by soaking and cooking for long in water. Their colour can be retained by avoiding water.
Moral 3 of the story : Avoid water to keep the flavonoids.
Thus flash cooking, with its low oil, no water, high heat, and short cooking time fits the bill in the case of retaining all the types of pigments?" - Krishnaiyer Ramachandran  (shared on Nov 20, 2015).
Beans - flash cooked for Poriyal


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