Somedays just fly by.
You're cooking along and you look up and it's 3 o'clock already!
But that day wasn't today. Today was long.
And the Chefs let us out way late.
Today each student filleted 2.5 fish. We did 2 sole and half a snapper each. Filleting fish isn't really difficult, I can see it just requires practice and confidence. Once I've done 10 to 15 fish, I'll be just like those guys in Pike Place Market! (Ok not quite.)
(There are 4 fillets, one piece is on my cutting board.)
We took our sole and snapper and turned them into a few dishes. Here they are in order of how we prepared them, which is also, coincidentally, in the order I liked them.
Big bold flavour in this Sole Cevichi!
Ok, let me remember what's in the cevichi - get ready!
roasted red pepper
salt and pepper
Throw everything into a jar and shake it up.
Sounds hot, right? Well it had some kick, but if you're careful with the hot stuff you can make this South American dish quite mild. This marinade was poured over our cold raw fish and in 15 minutes, it was cooked! (I loved it!)
Really great bouillabaisse with an equally fine chardonnay
from Sandhill Winery in Osoyoos.
This bouillabaisse is another dead simple recipe which involved throwing everything into a pot, boiling it and serving it. (It contained scallops, clams, trout and snapper.) We served it up with thin baguette slices spread with rouille. (Our rouille was a roasted red pepper puree with herbs, garlic and olive oil. Yummy.)
Ugh. What to say about this one. To be fair, I couldn't eat all of this as it has chicken stock in the orange and green parts. But look at it! No texture! 1970's "flooding of the plate" styling!
So this is "poached fish filled with carrot mousse sitting in a pool of pea velouté with red pepper brunoise".
The girl next to me summed it up nicely as she finished her fish off, "It's the kind of thing you serve in a hospital to patients who can't have solids". Another student gave it a one-word review - "Baby food".
I love fish, but it can be fairly bland. I can think of three fantastic fish dishes I've had off the top of my head, tandoori fish at the Summer Palace in Udaipur, salt-baked fish under the Galata bridge in Istanbul and Thai Town Cuisine's lemon fish in Taipei. (There're more, but that's just off the top of my head.) All three of these dishes had big flavour. They cooked the fish perfectly, but they helped it out a bit with supporting ingredients - like the cevichi.
The Chefs do have us prepare a lot of food which falls under the category of "Fine Dining". But I'd say I really "enjoy" only about 60% of the dishes we make. For me, there are more exciting dishes out there. One thing I understand is we have reserved some flavours for the Asian and Italian weeks which come in March, so we're shying away from some of those flavours for now.
But it's fun to critique, and it's great to hear what others would do with the same dish. We discussed the poached fish over the table and one student came up with poached fish stuffed with caramelized onions and saffron velouté, (caramelized onions and sole?? I'm not convinced), but the idea is that we're already thinking on how to change and improve on what we've learned. When the Chefs finally set us free to do some menu development, it's going to be interesting!