Apples and Ants

From the cookbook On Eating Insects apples are compressed with ant-distilled gin, then plated with rhubarb, herbs, and red wood ants.

“In Denmark in July, the apples are beginning to form fruit and the rhubarb season is coming to an end. Apples, rhubarb, and ants represent a broad spectrum of sourness that can be incorporated into a recipe. I created this dish with my friend Ruben Hernandez to explore these seasonal flavours.” – Roberto Flore.


Recipe excerpted with permission from On Eating Insects: Essays, Stories, and Recipes by Josh Evans, Roberto Flore, Michael Bom Frøst, and Nordic Food Lab published by Phaidon. Click here to purchase your own copy.

INGREDIENTS

Apples

  • 150 grams water
  • 2 grams ascorbic acid
  • 500 grams apple juice
  • Anty Gin* (or regular gin)
  • 3 fresh juniper berries
  • 380 grams apples

Rhubarb Juice

  • 800 gram rhubarb
  • 300 gram filtered water
  • 1 gram liquorice powder
  • 7 grams liquorice syrup
  • 3 grams angelica seeds

To Finish

  • seasonal herbs and flowers, such as wood sorrel, lemon verbena and nasturtium flowers
  • 15 red wood ants (Formica rufa)

* “We designed and distilled our own Anty Gin in collaboration with The Cambridge Distillery, which in addition to the requisite juniper and a few supporting botanicals of wood avens (Geum urbanum), alexander seed (Smyrnium olusatrum) and stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), features red wood ants (Formica rufa) as the aromatic star. The result is a complex, well-balanced gin; the ants bring key citrus notes and, for me, a distinct tingling on the tongue, similar to the feeling a few minutes after eating a nasturtium seed.” – Roberto Flore

Serves 4

PREPARATION

  1. For the Apples: Pour the water, ascorbic acid, apple juice and Anty Gin into a stainless steel bowl that can be put into a vacuum machine. Add the juniper berries. Using an apple corer, cut the apples into 12 cylinders of different lengths, then use a knife to cut the ends to make them flat. Put the apple cylinders into the stainless steel bowl and compress in a vacuum machine in order to infuse the apples in the liquid. Keep the apples in the liquid and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. For the Rhubarb Juice: Wash and remove the leaves from the rhubarb stalks, then juice the stalks in a juicer. Put the juice into a stainless steel pot and bring to the boil, removing any foam with a small mesh sieve (strainer). Turn off the heat and strain the liquid through a Superbag into another stainless steel bowl. Add the liquorice powder, liquorice syrup and angelica seeds and mix together. Place in a plastic container with a lid and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  3. To finish: Using a small pasta cutter, cut the wood sorrel and lemon verbena leaves and the nasturtium flowers into small round confetti. Pour the rhubarb juice into each bowl. Place 3 apple cylinders of various heights into the middle of each bowl and top with different colours of the seasonal confetti and 1–2 ants.
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