Thursday, October 19, 2006

Day 12 of PCA II – Salmon Run

Tonight we started off by taking a test. Chef Romero made a point last week of telling us that he wants a lot more detail in the answers. Some of us had given a lot of details and others not so much. Thank goodness I’m detail oriented.

Well one of the questions this week was “How many filets does a salmon have?” I know the answer is 2, but how to make that detailed…spell it out two? I found that question to be lacking in it’s own detail. So I gave the following – The Salmon is classified as a round fish thus providing 2 filets.

We also got our tests back from last week. I got an 11.9 out of 12 so can’t complain. We also got our weekly grades and I went from a B to an A, but still feel out of balance. Last week I really felt out of whack and this week I’m still feeling it. I don’t think I’m the only one and I have a great partner so I know that’s not it. My biorhythms must out of sync.

I was looking over what we have for finals and if I complained about PCA I and doing potato dishes, well karma is back and said you thought that was bad?

Day One – Written exam, equipment ID, primal cuts, sub-primal cuts, fabricate a chicken then prepare – Sautéed chicken breast with polenta, sautéed brussel sprouts with a mustard pan sauce. Also fabricate a halibut and prepare – sautéed halibut with potato/artichoke gratin with spring onions and fine herbs beurre blanc.

Day Two – Fabricate snapper and prepare Seared Snapper with Mélange of baby spring vegetables and fish consommé. Fabricate salmon and prepare – Salmon en Papillote with fingerling potatoes, fennel, olives and tear drop tomatoes.

Day Three – Grill 2 New York steaks to medium and medium rare. Serve with 2 sauces – béarnaise and bordelaise. Also serve with them red bliss smashed red potatoes and spicy broccolini with garlic.

Day Four – Lamb Shank Provencal, Bouillabaisse with Rouille and Pork Schnitzel

Day Five – Everything to be served like a meal – First course is Miso soup, second course is shrimp and vegetable tempura with tentusya sauce, third course pan roasted duck breast with spiced butternut squash, roasted plums and plum gastrique.

I hate finals. I'm all stressed out about them and they're not for a few more weeks. And there is nothing anyone can say or do that will make me look forward to them. Haha.

Anyway tonight we did Salmon again, poached and in a bag. I’ve done ‘en papillote’ many times before. Basically means “in paper” and it’s where you take your fish, chicken etc with your vegetables, sauces etc and fold the paper around it to make a pocket. You place these on a sheet pan and let them bake for the time needed. Nice thing about this dish is everything is in the bag so the only dishes you have is the plate you put them on and the cutting board you used to prep the veggies. The poached salmon to me was just nasty. It had no flavor to speak of even though the poaching liquid wasn’t just plain water. We took water, carrots, onions, bay leaf, pepper corns, salt and lemon juice and let that boil for 30 minutes. Strained it off and poached our salmon in that liquid (blech). Then that liquid was reduced and mounted with butter and poured over the salmon. It was served on a bit of water cress that was tossed with a form of tartar sauce. At the end of class Chef Rorschach suggested this be served chilled. And after having tasted it and went yuck I know she’s right. The salmon flavor would come out more if it was chilled vs. warm from the bland poaching liquid.

We also fabricated chicken tonight; it was a nice refresher before finals. Odd thing is I enjoy doing this task.

Our class is now 15 from the 21. I think I mentioned that before but it’s a different feel now that some of the dead weight is gone. But the class is clearly divided into 3 groups. There are 5 of us in one group and I’d like to say we’re pretty tight and work very well together. Then there is a small group of those that need more help or are being carried. This isn’t a bad thing if they’re learning and retaining. The hard part is when some continually question what we’re doing when they have their recipes right in front of them and can read them. I sort of snapped at one the other day because I was concentrating on what I was doing and double checking all my steps and I kept hearing “Red…Red…hey Red” I looked up and snapped “What?!” They then asked me to come help and I had to tell them “I can’t right now I have to finish what I’m doing first.” I felt bad because I pride myself on always being available to help anyone at anytime. Not just here at school but in life. So I felt like I let them down. But then I had to realize I’m there paying like they are to learn and gain experience. I’m not the Chef Instructor. It’s a hard line for me because I will always stop what I am doing to help someone else first. Then there is another group that I can’t quite put my finger on. I don’t want to use the word prima donna, but it’s the best description I can give. They do their own thing when they want and disregard anyone else. I have a very low tolerance for arrogance. I can only hope that get a good dose of humility and soon.

Tomorrow we’re doing a whole bunch of little dishes. Four to be exact and they sound like a lot of fun – Cha Shao Bao (Pork Buns), Shu Mai, Pot Stickers with Dipping Sauce and Har Gau. No clue what these things are but the Pot Stickers so can’t wait. It’s all done in teams of 4 so since there are four dishes we’ll each do one.

Until Tomorrow!....


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