How to Safely Flambé at Home: Make Flambéed Desserts, Steaks, and Cocktails

Let’s be honest. The only fires you want to light in your kitchen are the ones you make on purpose. And that’s called flaming. It may seem totally intimidating to literally light up a dish or a cocktail, but we’re here to show you how to do it safely in your kitchen.

What is flame?

flamed wagyu

Let’s start with the basics. The word flambe comes from a French word meaning flamed. In cooking, it refers to the technique of adding alcohol to a dish and lighting it to burn off the alcohol.

This can be done in desserts like baked bananas, savory dishes like steak, and even cocktails. Flambear is meant to wow guests and add pizzazz to a dinner party. The flavors of the liquor are maintained without the intensity of the alcohol.

Choose the right spirit

Before you grab your lighter and go pyromaniac, let’s talk about what alcohol you should light. “Use a higher-grade alcohol like rum, brandy or cognac,” said Adam Raskin, executive chef at The Grid in New York City. “I would choose the liqueur flambé as you would any other ingredient you’re using with a dessert. Think about the flavors you like with the dessert and the liqueur together.”

This also applies to setting fire to cocktails. “I always like to start with a spirit that complements the base of the drink,” said Julian Cox, executive director of beverages and corporate mixologist for MGM Resorts International. “For the famous Café Brûlot, we use cognac in combination with coffee, orange peel and cloves. It enhances the aromas of the spices and oils that you ignite when you make brûlée.”

A little lights a lot

Bananas Foster Style

When we say a little, we mean it. He starts with one to three ounces of his spirit. You will be surprised how much it lights up. As you get more comfortable, you can play with fire. But that small amount of liquid will be enough to light up the room.

How to light and pour

Baked Alaska

joe spit

“While the chefs light [flambéd dishes] using the flame of the stove, using a hand torch is the safest thing,” explained Joshua Coleman, a pastry chef at the Halifax restaurant in Hoboken, New Jersey. will cease to exist.”

Add the alcohol, turn off the heat, light the liquid with a torch and wait for it to sizzle.

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For a closer-to-the-table approach, Jennifer Chow, executive chef at Nobu Caesars Palace, prefers to heat and ignite the flambéed liquid in a small copper mug. “It won’t stay lit if it’s cold,” she said, heating the bottom of the mug with a torch. “You can feel it, it vibrates.” Then, in one quick motion, she lights the liquid and pours it over a wagyu steak. You should always pour towards yourself. That way, the flames dancing in the air once the burning liquid hits the steak won’t singe your arm.

Keep a metal cap nearby. If the flame gets out of control, turn off the oxygen supply to stop the fire.

When I light a drink, “I like to use a deep glass and have dry hands and no liquor,” Cox said. The alcohol will burn, so as long as you’re alert, the flame will go through. Keep a steady hand.”

Why even set the food on fire?

Peruvian cuisine

Geraint Rowland Photography//fake images

In addition to the incredible spectacle of it all, it changes the look and taste of a dish. As the alcohol burns, it can add a touch of smokiness and leave the liquor flavor behind. It also adds a caramelized or brûléed look (think Baked Alaska).

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