Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Day 5 of PCA II – Is it possible to get seasick from cooking fish?

Yes we’re still doing fish. I really shouldn’t complain. I like fish. My dad got me eating fish at a young age and so I’ve been exposed to many different kinds. I guess it’s like when I use to work at a restaurant called Bobby McGee’s. They were known for their prime rib, but being part of the staff we got to eat dinner and whatever was left over from the night. So we ate a lot of prime rib and to this day, I don’t care for prime rib as much anymore. At least with the fish it’s all different. Halibut, snapper some scallops thrown in for good measure.

Tonight we prepared –

Sautéed Snapper with Mélange of Baby Vegetables and Fish Consommé – This recipes name has a lot of those ‘ things in it. Must be fancy food. As far as the fish recipe goes - of all the ones we’ve prepared thus far, this was my favorite. First we had to fabricate the snapper. I’m starting to get the feel for cutting out the fillets. Not that I want to make a career out of it, and I’m still not great at it, but I’m at a point where I can muddle through pretty good and not panic. It also included whole baby carrots, baby turnips, baby zucchini, baby queen squash, green onions and 2 cherry tomatoes. The fish is cooked with the skin on and is first seared in clarified butter to get it nice and crackly. It is placed on top of the sautéed vegetables and then the fish consommé is spooned around it. A really beautiful dish with all the colors. Oh and the fish consommé? I was leery about this over powering the dish with ‘fish’ flavor, which to me should always be subtle. This was really good. Very light and complimented the fish and vegetables without overpowering them.

Next on our agenda was Coquilles St. Jacques with Scallop Roe Beurre Blanc –

I sure hope I don’t ruin this dish for anyone. First I have no clue who or what Coquilles are but they seem to come from France. St. Jacques is a tower in France and all that remains of the church of Saint-Jacques-la-Boucherie. It was dedicated to Saint James and the church itself was demolished in 1797. Don’t say I never taught you anything on this blog.

The scallops we had to clean up a bit first. Not bad really as I had expected we were going to have to shuck them ourselves. But, they already came opened on the half shell. With their ‘roe’ attached. Now there is some debate as to what the ‘roe’ is. We were told it was the scallops’ liver. I have heard others say it’s the tongue. I think these folks are wrong because this thing cannot separate itself from the other part(s) it’s attached to, to work as a tongue. Roe is the ripe egg masses, the large egg sack in fish. In the case of the scallop both sexes can produce roe because scallops are hermaphroditic. They can change their sexes. (wow you all are getting a lot of interesting stuff here!) Red roe means the scallop is currently female, and white is male.

Ok the recipe. Well we took the muscle portion (the part most of us eat) and clean them up. Then we sliced off the roe which resembles red, wet mayonnaise, it smears real easy. Two of these were added to 6 ounces of butter to make – Roe Butter for our Roe Beurre Blanc sauce. This sauce is first prepared by adding a small amount of cream, wine and shallots to a pan and reducing to au sec. Then it is strained and the roe butter is added to slowly incorporate into the cream. This is the part where I couldn’t even taste it. It’s a mental thing that I will have to challenge and get past, but for now – no. I’m not eating mashed up raw egg sack in creamed butter. But it is very pretty. The scallops are seared in clarified butter on both sides. They are then put back into the cleaned half shell and the Roe Beurre Blanc is spooned around them. (3 scallops to a shell) The shell is then placed on a plate on top of rock salt and topped with chives. This was an appetizer dish.

All in all it was a good night. I got to fillet an extra snapper and they had left over and a halibut that needed to be filleted as well. I jumped on this because anything they say is going to be on the final and you can get extra practice on it DO IT!

It’s now 11:05pm and time to gather our belongings and head home. For some of us the drive is longer. This can be good and bad. Good because it gives me time to reflect on the evenings events. I go over in head the comments the Chef Instructors gave us to help commit it to memory.

It’s about 11:15 and I’ve exited the parking structure, my window is down because I have to use a key fob to get out. I leave and turn onto Sunset and roll up my window because it is a bit chilly out. (I love fall and winter!) As I get on the freeway and begin the sojourn home I realize I drive through a lot of different areas of Los Angeles. I’ve smelled a bakery at night cooking what smells like brownies. I’ve past through an area that smells like they’re roasting sunflower seeds…but what is that smell I smell right now? It’s a smelly smell. The kind of smell that smells..well smelly. It’s not a skunk, they have a very unique pungent odor. It’s close to that smell when you wonder if someone is cleaning a septic tank or the sewer is backed up. But that can’t be at this late hour. Whatever it is, it is getting stronger. Wow really strong…jesus what the hell is that smell?? I roll down the window to see if A it’ll clear it out B see if it’s coming from outside. Well I can’t tell, driving at 65 with the window down and being cold I can’t smell anything. Roll up the window and BAM…oh good lord it’s in the car! (Now remember that movie where the babysitter has just put the small child to bed and starts getting crank calls and then on the last call the police are involved and call her back and are yelling “The call is coming from inside the house!! Get out! Get out!” but she can’t because it’s too late…DING! You can now picture the look of horror on my face) Seems while I was fabricating that last halibut, whose entrails were quite odorous, a, shall we say, dollop of yack dropped onto my shoe. But wait, there’s more…as we all get into our cars we strip down to the bear comfy zone. Our nasty towels and aprons and hats are all tossed into a pile in our cars. Um..I don’t have a trunk, I have a hatchback. Can you fully appreciate my pain now? There is NO PLACE FOR THE STENCH TO GO! Chef Rorschach kindly told us during fish week to go to the store and get lemons or tomato juice to soak our hands in when we get home to remove the fish smell. I have that long drive with fish gut smells coming from my shoe, and the towels in the back and now my hands stink, I have no lemons in my car and I believe the fish smell has now permeated into the steering wheel. JOY. Wonder how I take this steering wheel off to soak in the sink with lemon. (note to self – wear gloves!)

Everyone was asking about why no music was played tonight. I had to fess up and say it was my fault. I had posted on here about how some of the music drove me insane. What I should have posted was how I can tune it out as well. I guess the Chef Instructors took it to heart. I’M SORRY! Please bring back the music. It makes the others so happy. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. (OOooOO that sounded so philosophical. I wonder who said that first)

Tomorrow we’re doing Salmon. Cakes and grilled. I can hardly wait to grind up the salmon. The carnage and shrapnel should be quite fun to watch. I’ll remember to check my shoes before getting into the car AND I’m bringing with a baggie to put my dirty stuff into.

Until Tomorrow!


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