January 15, 2020

Elena Arzak (Arzak***, San Sebastian) presented the work she has done together with the Basque Culinary Center on fruit enzymes, “with which we marinate meat and fish to increase flavour and texture”. We don’t work with octopus, as “my dad doesn’t like them”.

The head chef of Arzak*** restaurant (San Sebastian), the fourth generation of a family of restaurateurs like few others, returned to the stage of Reake Seguros Madrid Fusión to present the results of her latest study on marinades. “You know that we like tradition and to leave a legacy of Basque gastronomic tradition and culture for the next generation, but we are also a house of innovation and we open our minds to new ideas that bring more flavour to the dish”.

For that reason, Elena Arzak has shown the findings of the study carried out using enzymes, mainly from fruit (papaya, pineapple, kiwi, orange and fig), to change the texture of both meat and fish, where they act on the collagen. “We wanted to find a more umami taste in horse mackerel, and we realised that, by marinating them longer than we thought we could, we also affected the texture, gaining in density”.

They worked with the Basque Culinary Center on squid and meat, but not on octopus, “as we don’t touch them at Arzak. My father saw ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’ as a child and was traumatised by it”, Elena explained candidly. And they have done so on those that they were able to with natural enzymes, “because we noticed that they also interfere with the taste”. However, these need to be worked on at the right temperature. “Heat inactivates their action”, pointed out Xabier Gutiérrez, from the Basque restaurant’s R+D laboratory, who joined the head chef on stage.

New film and new dining room

Elena Arzak took advantage of the Reale Seguros Madrid Fusión stage to present the remodelling of the dining room on the top floor of the restaurant, “which we have changed in response to instructions from the restaurant staff. We could have increased the capacity, but we left it the same so that we could have more space and comfort”.

Lastly, she mentioned that the film made by director Asier Altuna and produced by EITB and TVE, focusing on the life of the restaurant, will soon be available. “A very respectful film that will show our world like never before”.