Molecular Gastronomy Spherification Recipe: FoodNRecipe's 4 Loko Caviar for Fancy Weekends

August 17, 2012 4:51 PM EDT | By Anthony Smith
4 Loko Caviar (Photo: Creative Commons)

As far as molecular gastronomy recipes goes, this pretty genius (if I do say so myself) original recipe for 4 Loko Caviar is as close as I'm going to get to a signature dish. It's the perfect marriage of El Bulli high-mindedness with the kind of ham-fisted low-brow cooking that makes the work of a home-cook so immediately recognizable.

You probably remember 4 Loko as the thing that ruined your weekends by making them totally awesome. Before they changed their recipe by removing three of the Lokos thanks to Obama, it was the kind of drink that ensured your night either ended in prison or cardiac arrest.

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Now, it's back on your plate in rare form; that is to say, deliciously.

This recipe doesn't use any actual 4 Loko, because that stuff tastes really bad. And when I tested this recipe, I made it with some fresh fruit sodas I picked up from the supermarket. But if you don't live in a place where fresh fruit sodas are readily available, you could just as easily make this with Kool Aid.

Here's what you need:

-400 grams of fresh fruit-flavored soda or Kool Aid in two flavors that go well together (lemon lime, raspberry peach, strawberry lemonade etc.)

-200 grams of Red Bull

-200 grams of Tito's Handmade Vodka

-400 grams of ice cold water

-8 grams of sodium alginate

-4.5 grams of calcium lactate

-At least four pipettes

Now that you've gotten your hands on all of that, let's get cracking with the "cooking."

1. Don't combine your juices. Instead, leave them separate, and add a gram of sodium alginate to it per hundred grams of juice/soda/Kool-Aid. In other words, if you have 200 grams of one flavor of Kool-Aid, add 2 grams of sodium alginate to it.

2. Add 2 grams of the sodium alginate to the Red Bull

3. Add 2 grams of the sodium alginate to the Vodka.

4. Stir up everything with an immersion blender for fastest results. A whisk is just fine, too, but it'll take a little longer. A little bit of thickening is natural here, a lot means you used too much sodium alginate and you'll have to start over. If you're serious about molecular gastronomy, or just getting this recipe right, you should invest in an extremely accurate scale that measures stuff out to the tenth of a gram. They're pretty cheap if you get the smaller ones (twenty-five bucks).

Pro-tip: Taste everything. You're looking for a robust flavor from each, and a liquid that's just about as thin as the original liquid you made. The more thin it is at this phase of the recipe, the better it will taste in the end.

Pro-tip Two: When you're mixing sodium alginate with carbonated stuff, keep in mind that much of the weight comes from the air bubbles in the drink. Don't be afraid to experiment by using a few tenths of a gram less sodium alginate to account for that.

5. Once everything's mixed, let it sit at room temperature for anywhere between fifteen minutes and one hour. The longer you let it sit, the better.

6. While that's happening, stir up 400 grams of cold water with 4.5 grams of calcium lactate until it's completely dissolved. Once that's done, put the bath in the fridge.

7. After an hour, the bubbles from mixing should have disappeared from the four different liquids (the four lokos!). Now here comes the trickiest part.

8. Grab the calcium lactate cold water bath from the fridge and plop it on the table. Fill it with the first liquid (do one of the fruit drinks first, as their color should make them easiest to see), then hold the pipette parallel to the table about six inches to a foot from the surface of the bath, and squeeze slowly with the same consistent pressure, so that the little droplets fall from the pipette at the same speed, ensuring a consistency of size.

9. Check out what's happening in that bath! Little caviars are forming. Give the bath a gentle stir and let the caviar "cook" for anywhere between twenty seconds to a minute.

10. Once they're done, transfer them to an cold water bath to wash the calcium lactate off of them.

Pro-Tip: Having problems with your Red Bull's spherification? It could have to do with the drink's PH level. Add a gram of calcium citrate to the mix and we guarantee you-- it will spherify!

And there you go! Just repeat for all of them and you're all set.

For my serving suggestions, I'm going off the number four here. You have four different types of liquid, one for each Loko. I've found that if you put them in four shot glasses, they're pretty dazzling. Then just do a shot of the vodka caviar, then the Red Bull caviar, then the two fruit juices as chasers, you're all set.


If you have access to an ice cream made from stout, you can top it with the caviars. 'Nuff said.

© 2012 Food & Recipe All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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