The Food Lab Video Series: Emulsions

Serious Eats

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[Photograph: Vicky Wasik. Video: Written by J. Kenji López-Alt; produced by Chris Mohney and Nick Perron-Siegel]

Editor's Note: Several years ago, we produced a Food Lab video series for Serious Eats. The only problem? It lived behind a paywall, and almost nobody got to see it. Now, we're finally releasing it to our readership for free. You can check out more episodes here.

Come here. Closer. I need to whisper something to you, all ASMR-style. Right up next to the screen. Ready?

Emulsions.

Did that make you feel anything? An electric jolt of excitement? A sudden spinning of the gears in your brain? A demure tingle down the spine? Or perhaps, if you're like me, all three?

Because emulsions are among the most intriguing and important (and overlooked!) of culinary concepts. They play a key role not just in texture and flavor, but also in the way flavors and ingredients interact with each other.

Poorly emulsified mayonnaise is greasy and loose. Pasta sauce without enough added pasta water tastes wet and bland. A salad dressed in an un-emulsified vinaigrette will quickly shed the vinegar and become waterlogged. (Don't believe me? We've got some video to show you!)

The concept isn't particularly hard to grasp—we demo it with LEGO figures and finger traps—but once you do, it'll unlock so many troubleshooting doors for you in the kitchen.

So get ready to gasp as Katie and I literally watch vinaigrettes separate! Marvel as we lick freshly made mayo straight off our fingers! Swoon in awe as my shifty eyes rapidly track from camera to camera, because I wasn't sure where to look! It's time to learn about emulsions.