How To: Flambé
Meaning 'flamed' in French, flambé is a cooking technique in which alcohol is added to ingredients in a hot cooking pan and ignited. The complex reactions that take place are said to develop new flavours, although the spectacle of combusting liquor vapours have theatrical appeal on their own.
Flambé is historically popular for dishes served tableside (think Crêpes Suzette in grand French dining rooms of yesteryear). But it's still done by chefs wanting to burn off the booze from a pan at speed.
Fanning a few flames of your own is certainly going to impress upon guests your culinary prowess, but only if you retain your eyelashes in the process. The hotter the pan, the higher the ﬁre, so make sure it's down to a low-to-medium heat.
- Pour 1-2 measures of a 40 per cent spirit (cognac works well with both sweet and savoury) into a glass and then, at arm's reach, into the pan.
- Retaining your distance, quickly strike a match and move it to the lip of the pan.
- Once the alcohol ignites, leave it for a few seconds and then give the pan a shake to coax out any of the ﬁnal vapours.