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Welcome to inoculation nation: Progressive chefs are getting deep into fermentation, the process of controlled rot that adds tart, sour and funky flavors to all kinds of foods. Here, a selection of cutting-edge microbe experiments, ranked from mildly odiferous to nose-hair-singeing stinky.
From Light Funk to Super Funk
At Elements in Princeton, NJ, chef Scott Anderson makes his own rejuvelac— fermented sprouted-grain liquid—to use as a coconut-milk substitute in a Thai-style soup.
To amp up the flavor of turnips and carrots, chef de cuisine Carl Shelton dresses them with a spoonful of their own fermented juices at Chicago’s Boka.
Corn On The Cob
Sean Brock of Charleston, SC’s McCrady’s has inoculated everything from Mountain Dew to popcorn. His latest experiment: whole ears of corn, fermented in whey.
To create a porky version of katsuo-bushi (Japanese dried bonito, essential for dashi), Momofuku’s David Chang smokes, dries and ferments pork loins for three months.
Anchovies & Caviar
San Francisco chef Chris Cosentino of Incanto ages anchovies and caviar for a year to make garum, the famously stinky Roman-era fish sauce.