Monday, October 09, 2006

Day 4 of PCA II – Let’s go Fishing!

Well tonight we got to fabricate a fish, Halibut to be exact. Now I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten halibut. I’ve eaten the steaks, fish taco’s the fillets you name it. But I have never seen this ugly fish up close and personal. Even my dad who used to go deep sea fishing would bring home these tasty critters but they already fillet and ready for us to enjoy. These fish are UGLY. They’re flat fish so they swim sideways. The bottom side is white or creamy color and while they started with 2 eyes on either side of their head, evolution said “wow this is stupid because he’s looking at the ground a lot and his enemies are up there” and moved it up to the top. And they’re real close together. The top part is darker in color, this helps with camouflaging him and helping him to absorb a bit of heat of the suns rays. (A tan is the last thing this guys needs)

Good points – he doesn’t smell as he is very fresh. There are some that think all fish smell bad, which prose’s the question if they smell bad when they’re fresh what do they smell like when they are bad – good?

He’s not very big only about 6 pounds. So it’s not like those giants you see on the fishing cattle boats that weigh in at 45 pounds. Yeah I can see slapping that on my 2 foot by 1 foot cutting board.

Bad points – He’s not been cleaned, at all.

I mean he’s not been cleaned inside either. Joy.

Time to eviscerate the body. This is an interesting experience for all of us. Find the spine make a small incision the length of the body, make a slice above the tail (don’t remove it you’ll need it later), make a slice behind the gills, turn Fred over and do the same on the other side. Now turn him back and begin long strokes down the length of his body keeping your knife flat against the bones and exerting a bit of pressure. (This is where if you don’t have a sharp knife you are SOL) Continue your cut all the way down to the bottom and cut away the fillet. One down and 3 to go. After you get the other fillet off the front it’s that magically moment time, snap his neck and pull away from the body and the entrails should follow. It was here that I decided to smell my fish. Very clean smell and the fish seem really clean and WHOA!! That smell isn’t fresh. I think I just singed my nose hairs what the hell is that? Oh it’s his guts. Man those are some rancid things. My partner sees my reaction and laughs. I told him be sure to smell your fish because the Chef wants to see us smell everything (evil smirk begins to form on my face). As he leans over I notice he’s heading right for the entrails first and BAM yep there it is, he snaps his head back and gets this disgusted look on his face. I just chuckle and said “told you”.

The back side fillets are a bit thinner but I manage to get my two. Hhmm…they sure don’t look like the ones I buy in the store.

Tonight’s dishes are –

Sauteed Halibut with Potato and Artichoke Gratin, Spring Onions and Fines Herbes Buerre Blanc


Sauteed Halibut with Fava Beans, Green Garlic, Caperberries and Aioli

I am happy to report no one got sick pulling guts out of the fish. I wondered about a couple of them but they mustered thru it. Took guts (hahaha).

We will be following a fish theme for the next few days which will include Snapper, Trout, Lobster, Scallops, Shrimp and a big ‘ol Tuna (sorry Charlie).

Ok this next part may offend some people, but please understand it is not meant in a mean context. It was a stressful situation and I just reacted –

I didn't tell you about my experience driving home the other night. As I'm humming along I look up in my rearview mirror and see a mass. I'm like "what the heck is that?" I look in my side mirror and again just a mass but I can't figure it out. It wasn't until it was a bit closer I realize it was a large SUV with no lights on and we're getting ready to head up Kellog Hill which can be dangerous enough as it is. It's time to don my Super Good Samaritan Suit. I let the SUV pass me on the left and I begin honking my horn. My horn that basically whispers out "hello? can you hear me?" What I needed was a can of air that goes "HEY BUDDY!!". Took me forever to get their attention. It was two middle aged Asian women. The passenger has that look on her face of "omg we're going to be killed by an angry white chef!" I give her the signal to roll down her window, the cranking motion. We don't even roll down our windows this way anymore but by god it's still the signal we use. They roll down their windows and I start yelling "LIGHTS!! Your LIGHTS are off!!" She yells back "What?" "YOUR LIGHTS ARE OFF!!" "What??" Ok I get it they're Asian - new tactic "YOUR RIGHTS!! YOUR RIGHTS ARE OFF" while making the light flash symbol with my hand. Still no communication. So I begin flashing my lights and that's when it dawns on them and they get their lights turned on. WHEW. That was just too much excitement for me after the day I already had. I see them up ahead of me, how I have no clue since we were doing 80 while I was yelling at them, turn their lights off again but right back on. I could hear the conversation in the car the passenger slapping the other woman on the arm “How could not see our rights were not on?!” And the driver looking over “With all these rights on the freeway it’s bright enough so I did not notice.” Passenger “Bah turn your rights off right now you see how dark it is!” at which point she does and it is dark, but that’s because they’re going up the hill at that moment and there a lot less lights.

There is a lot of action on my freeways at midnight. I know why I’m up so late but some I can’t figure out. ‘Tis one of the mysteries that will go unsolved. I wonder if any of them are reviewing recipes in their heads or even thinking of recipes. I wonder if they have dreams of sautéing onions and deglazing pans. Or nightmares about forgetting to turn an oven on or if that’s just me? I wonder if when they go to work the next day and their boss asks them to do something, if they too respond with “Yes Chef!” and watch their boss stare at them like they’ve lost their mind. Do they eat lunch the next day and close their eyes and try and guess the ingredients? They embaraass their family with always thinking out loud at grocery stores or restaurants with “You know what would make this better?” or “Oh this isn’t that hard to make.” Some poor woman in the grocery store asked me a question and my daughter told her to run for her life. The question was “What do you do with avocados besides makes guacamole?” 15 minutes later the woman has that glassy eye look small children get when you try and explain to them for longer than a minute how to do something. I stopped talking and can sense my daughter behind me mouthing the words to the woman “I warned you…”

I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking of food and how to prepare it or of things I wish to learn. I am more excited that at this stage in my life I have yet another thing to be passionate about.

Until Tomorrow!


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