It may have been a tame winter, but at Chef Jason Atherton's London restaurant Pollen Street Social, the snow has been falling.
Atherton uses horseradish snow as a spicy counterpoint to the briny and sweet elements on the plate in his Scallop Ceviche, Radish, Horseradish Snow, Yuzu, and Soy. Similar to but much more than a simple granité, the snow is made by first infusing buttermilk with fresh horseradish juice, and then freezing, creating a flaky, powdery garnish. The result is a Vivaldi-like composition of flavor, with each bite a new season: a little winter with horseradish and sea herbs, some crisp autumn with apple, a soupçon of summer with compressed cucumber.
The dish is a restaurant favorite, and has remained on the menu for several months since Pollen Street opened in April 2011. "People see it as one of the key dishes we serve here," Atherton says. "It is inspired by my trips to Asia. The horseradish snow is the perfect foil to the sweet, tender scallop, and it cuts through the richness of the yuzu dressing. It's a fun part of the dish."
Atherton has been fascinated with "snows" for a while (other chefs, including Michael Voltaggio, use them to similar effect)—and makes they for both savory (cured salmon with avocado purée and horseradish snow) and pastry applications (pairing candied beetroot with yogurt snow). His creative juices really get flowing when he's in the "research center/test kitchen" at Pollen Street, where he and his cooks can practice new culinary techniques. In his secluded test kitchen in Pollen Street's basement, Atherton now hunkers like a mad scientist over natural fats and Asian fruits, trying to incorporate more and more "pure and natural food" into his dishes.
Scallop Ceviche, Radish, Horseradish Snow, Yuzu, and Soy
Horseradish Snow Technique
1. Juice the horseradish, discarding the pulp and reserving the juice.
2. Heat the milk and cream, thickening with cornstarch. Add the buttermilk and the horseradish juice.
3. Freeze the liquid to 0°F and then pacotize.
4. Reserve in freezer as needed (or refreeze into a block and grate with a fine microplane onto a frozen tray).