Mangu is a typical Dominican breakfast. It's made up of mashed green plantains, egg, pickled onions (escabeche), and a meat of choice.
The spark for creativity here was to take a very ethnic dish with pronounced flavor profiles and twist it around with some molecular gastro techniques. Mangu is a well rounded dish with great balanced flavors, textural combinations, and is quite hearty to boot.
Plantains are the focal point of the dish. Yielding an earthy essence, smoky/salty bacon lends a hand, egg yolk adds creamy unctuousness, and the onions bring the bite and acid to cut right through the whole mess. Each bite sparks your taste buds with a rollercoaster ride of goodness.
Let’s take this classic and funk it up into something only your palate can comprehend.
Gnocchi: The green plantains were cooked down in the traditional sense in seasoned water until tender. Then mashed with butter, cream, and salt to taste. This mash is then passed through a sieve to smooth out the texture, not unlike creamy mashed potatoes. The addition of Methylcellulose helps form a ‘gel’ to bind the desired shape. Then rolled out into logs, and cut out to form gnocchi. To finish they are browned in butter and bacon fat to heat through.
Pickled Onion Jam: Sliced white onions are sweated down with salt and sugar until softened and translucent. Deglazed with cider vinegar, and flavored with papaya hot sauce (a West Indian favorite). This mixture is then pureed in a blender to reach a liquid consistency. Next, sodium alginate is sheared in to add body. The consistency became that of cooked, slimy grits, although with a bounce in the bite akin to gummy bears. To shape this into something more appealing, a disc was formed by setting the mix in a circular mold full of calcium chloride. A reaction occurs when the sodium alginate meets the calcium and a skin begins to form on the outside. (Quickly popped out the ‘marmalade’ and rinsed in cold water to stop the process.)
Egg: a slow poached egg (onsen 63®) would work well here. Due to time constraints – a close replication made by cracking an egg yolk into warm olive oil and left to set up, yet still runny consistency. Voila!
Bacon: rendered until crispy, cut into triangles
Success! Each bite resembled the original but with new textural delights. The gnocchi were crisp all around, yet creamy centered. The onion marmalade added the kick and acid to balance out the fatty egg yolk. An olive oil poached egg is a great garnish – holding spherically shape, yet runny like a sunny sider. Dusted with fleur de sel further improves upon perfection. And bacon makes everything better!