Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Knives and Fire XX (Week 5)

Fish Day

Well, most of fish day, since I had to leave early. A classmate will tell me what else happened - or maybe Chef Wiseman will.

We began with a discussion of lamb, to finish up with the day before. (Note - heated the half-rack in a sautoir and then put them in the oven. Sautéed the marinated shoulder steaks in the sautoir. Removed the steaks and added minced garlic and deglazed with the marinade (balsamic vinegar, water, oil, pepper and oregano) and some chicken stock. When the sauce in the pan was reduced, put the steaks back. Served a steak and 1/4 rack with roasted sweet potato slices dusted with ginger and steamed broccoli.)

We started with the side dish from yesterday, anna potatoes. These are thinly sliced potatoes arranged in a sauteuse in spiral layers, each layer drizzled with salt, pepper and melted butter. Cover and bake. Take off the cover and finish baking. Can be made ahead of time - good for Shabbat. Must use Idaho or other dry potatoes, the older, the better. High starch content is a must. Do NOT put the slices in water - put directly in pan.

Then we discussed the seasonings for lamb - rosemary, garlic, marjoram, oil. And went on to some talk of menu planning - the importance of contrast in color, texture, flavor and temperature, plus the use of height in plating. We may get a market basket on the final day. We also put G's lamb en chemise (wrapped in puff pastry) in the oven.

Then we went on to discuss fish - mostly restricting our talk to the kosher ones with fins and scales. Fish are divided,roughly, into two kinds - round fish, who swim vertically, and flatfish, like flounder, who lie on their sides on the bottom. Note that - bottom feeders. Perfectly kosher. We don't care what the fish eat. Fish must smell clean, have firm flesh, moist and full scales, bright eyes, and red gills (if they're present.)

We talked about poaching - submersion and shallow poaching. Submersion is, well, covering the fish with just under boiling liquid, usually a court bullion - water, wine, acid, white mirepoix or a fish stock or fumét. Fumét is like a fish stock, but the liquid comes from the vegetables. Shallow poaching puts the fish on a cuisson, a base of vegetables and liquid that goes partway up, and is then covered, so it poaches and steams.

Then the lamb was out of the oven and rested to 160°. I got an end piece and it was so good.

Then we butchered fish. This was *hard*. We began with a round fish - farm-raised striped bass. We could tell because the stripes were broken, which is a sign of a genetically inferior fish - probably a cross breed. First, we put the fish on our cutting boards on their sides. They were scaled, drawn and had their fins trimmed. We put our boning knives (sharpened after yesterday's frenching) into the hinge of the jaw and broke it. Then we cut behind the gill plate. Next, we cut along one side of the spinal column, finishing by flattening our knives and cutting horizontally through the tail. At least in theory - not so much for me. We cut gently until we hit breast bone. And then we twisted our knives and cut the breast bone. Only I cut around it. Once we had one fillet free, we did the other. I butchered both more or less. Then we removed any bones,mostly by cutting them out. We didn't skin them. Frames were saved for stock.

Then we did a fluke, a "summer flounder". He showed two methods - one similar to the round fish, one that produced four demi-fillets instead. I chose that one. Since the spine is in the flat side of the fish, you cut along it top and bottom, and then fillet out the meat on either side. I butchered these somewhat less, until it came time to skin. There I did poorly. When I left, my fillets were being chopped for mousse.

And that's all I can say because I left early today.
Tags: cooking school, knives and fire

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