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    12 Weird Things Heston Blumenthal Has Used

    At times voted the best chef in the world, Heston Blumenthal built his reputation on rethinking classic recipes. To do this he often discovers very unusual things to enhance the dish. He hasn't yet fricasseed a hamster, but it can't be long...

    1. Sodium citrate / Via

    We're already into Walter White territory. Trying to concoct the perfect burger cheese slice Heston eventually uses sodium citrate, a gelling agent. It gets blended with cheeses and seasonings to set it in a perfect wobbly layer.

    2. Ponzu Sauce / Via

    Yuzu is an Asian citrus fruit that is the key ingredient for ponzu, a popular dipping sauce. It's tart, bright flavour is a blend of other citrus fruits with a floral aroma. Heston uses Ponzu in his iconic "Sounds of the sea" dish, which mimics a seaside scene and the sharp-sour flavour perks up the fish in the recipe.

    3. Bonito flakes / Via

    Bonito, or katsuobushi, is dried tuna. Doesn't sound beyond cat food does it? Because of the whacking amounts of umami bonito gives (a recurring favourite flavour of Heston's) he uses it liberally across his recipes. The picture above is from broth of lamb, a dish from the Dinner by Heston restaurant. The broth is seasoned with bonito flakes.

    4. Shirasu / Via

    In a dish with a 3 day cooking time and £25-per-portion price tag, shirasu is just one small thing on the extensive ingredient list for Heston's Perfect Fish Pie. Oddly enough it's a relative of a very common fish in the UK - whitebait. Guess what Heston uses it for? That's right, umami.

    5. Oyster juice / Via

    Another ingredient, another fishy umami punch. Oyster juice is exactly what it sounds like, and is used in a Fat Duck amuse bouche for oysters with passion fruit.

    6. Soy lecithin / Via

    Another dip into the home chemistry set: soy lecithin is used to stabilise foams. You know, those things no-one asked for on their dinner.

    7. Charmagaz / Via

    Charma-what? Dried melon seeds to you and me. Chef Blumenthal regards it as essential to a perfect chicken tikka masala.

    8. Devil's penis

    OiYouFood / Via

    Nowhere near as odd as you think, it's a type of chilli. Ground with other chillies, Heston puts it into his face-melting chilli con carne.

    9. Pandanus leaves

    Cooking Ninja / Via

    These palm-like leaves are a rash over Asian cuisines, often used for steaming or serving (or turned into jam as above). Mr B invented "beeryani", the perfect lager accompaniment to a curry, infused with rice and pandan leaves.

    10. Hay

    Cornercafe / Via

    Heston loves to cook meat and fish in hay. I think he just likes setting fire to stuff.

    11. Agar agar

    I Want To Cook Like Heston / Via

    If there's one thing Heston loves, it's a thick sauce. If there's one thing Heston hates, it's using flour to thicken a sauce. Absolutely hates it. He'd much rather send people to obscure retailers so they can try and haggle for a weird seaweed-derivative byproduct.

    12. Pontefract cakes

    Good Food Shops / Via

    Not a cake at all but a divisive traditional sweet from the North of England. Heston loves to melt them down and use them as a liquorice coating for salmon.

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