The Proper Way To Scoop Quenelle

Two ice cream quenelles on a plate with a tangerine
Two ice cream quenelles on a plate with a tangerine - Aksana Ban/Shutterstock

If you've ever ordered a dessert with ice cream at a fine dining restaurant, chances are pretty good that it was served in the shape of a quenelle. The fancy culinary term comes from the appearance of a classic, dumpling-like Lyonnais dish made with pike fish. These oval-like scoops are the height of fine dining elegance, and any chef worth their salt has put in hours of practice to get their technique just right.

For example, one of the most memorable scenes in season 2 of the TV show "The Bear" comes when Marcus, played by Lionel Boyce, visits Copenhagen to train with Luca, a pastry chef played by Will Poulter. At one point the two are huddled over a small pan of verdant shiso sorbet as Luca pulls a perfect quenelle using one hand and a spoon. Poulter makes the traditional technique look deceptively simple, but with a little practice you can pull off a perfectly passable quenelle at home as long as the conditions are just right. All you need is the right shaped spoon, the proper conditions, and a little patience.

Read more: French Cooking Tricks You Need In Your Life

Set Up Your Space

Cream cheese quenelles on salad
Cream cheese quenelles on salad - A-lesa/Getty Images

The actual work of scooping a quenelle only takes a couple of seconds, but certain conditions need to be in play if you want to stand a chance at getting it right. First, you need a proper spoon. A normal eating-style teaspoon (not a measuring spoon) works great, just look for one with a deep bowl so that you can get a rounder finished quenelle. Second, make sure that whatever it is you want to scoop is at the optimal temperature. If you're serving something frozen like ice cream or sorbet, for example, let it soften for about five to 10 minutes on the counter before you attempt to scoop. Finally, fill up a small bowl with warm water and place a folded dish towel or paper towels nearby so that you can dip your spoon and dab off the water between attempts.

Once you have everything set up, dip the spoon in the warm water, pull it out and dab off any excess drips. Now, grab it by the handle about ½ inch away from the bowl. Face the bowl away from you and press it down and away from you into the food you want to scoop. Press the spoon about ½ inch to fill the bowl, then swirl the top of the spoon over the top, around, and then beneath the quenelle to lift it away.

Practice Makes Perfect

A quenelle of sorbet with mint
A quenelle of sorbet with mint - Francesco Marzovillo/Getty Images

Once you have the technique for scooping quenelles down, the entire motion should be seamless. If you don't have a pastry chef friend who can tutor you, the best way to improve is to watch lots of videos to get it right. In one such clip on Instagram, former Gordon Ramsay head chef Al Brady demonstrates his method with some chile-flecked hot honey butter.

Brady makes it look easy. However, he notes, "You need to get a few wrong before you start getting them right. Don't give up!"

It can also be challenging to release the quenelle from the spoon without mangling it. The key is to hold the quenelle scoop close to the surface you're serving it on, and slowly curve it a bit as you release it so that its egg-like shape remains intact. If the scoop seems to want to stick to the spoon, rub the back of the bowl of the spoon a little bit with your finger or the palm of your hand to release it.

When you first start trying to scoop quenelles, the most important advice is to be patient. Your first tries are probably going to be a bit wonky, and that's ok. It's one of those things that looks easy, but takes some muscle memory to really master. Just keep practicing like Marcus from "The Bear," who kept at it after a rocky start. Eventually, everything will click into place and you'll be scooping quenelles like a pro.

Read the original article on Daily Meal