This recipe relies heavily on practice to perfect ratios and timing. As Lou Di Palo puts it, “The secret is experience. The more you do it, the more efficient you become.” Refer to our How To Make Di Palo's Mozzarella Slideshow and Di Palo's video for visual aid.
Bring a large pot of water to 180 degrees and pour some of it into a large mixing bowl, keeping the remaining water at the same temperature. (The goal is to have enough water in the bowl to cover your curds without drowning them.) You’ll have to gauge the amount of water by how much mozzarella you’re trying to make, but ideally the water will be ½ inch to an inch above the curd line (remember you can always add more water).
Using a knife, cut down the massive curd into smaller squares. For those that own a chitarra, run these smaller squares straight into the hot liquid. If you’re just using a knife, cut the curds into even smaller squares before dropping them into the water. Let the curds sit for a few minutes, until the water temperature drops to 145 degrees, allowing the curds to neutralize.
Using a smaller bowl or cup, scoop out some of the cooled liquid and add more of the 180 degree water, keeping the water line higher than the curds. Do this until the liquid comes up to 160 degrees.
With a paddle or back of a big spoon, start working the curds back into one mass. Use your tool of choice to lift the curds from the liquid and with your other hand gently work them together. Repeat this step slowly, over the course of several minutes, until you’ve reached the desired elasticity and tenderness (this is something you will come to identify more easily with experience).
To shape the cheese into a ball, stretch the mass until you’ve reached a taffy-like consistency. Use your hands to cup a sizable piece of mozzarella. Begin folding it into itself and dunking the ball into the liquid to retain moisture as it forms. Tear the ball from the rest of the mass and submerge it immediately into a container of cold water.
After a few minutes, the mozzarella will be sufficiently shocked – the outside will form a shell while the inside maintains a creamy consistency. At this point, you can transport the balls from the fresh water to a cold salt-water bath. The salt water should have enough sea salt in it to make the balls of mozzarella float.
For the best mozzarella eating experience, enjoy the same day.