wowsers-This morning we spoke about the hierarchy in the kitchen. So I like the French system by the way. It is super bureaucratic in appearance. Each person has a function and you take your time to rise to the top. You cannot even really call yourself a chef till you reach a certain level. I totally agree. Yes most people can cook, but it is out of habit, and not really from technique and ability to be creative and really explore food. I (just in my opinion) think that this separates a person who cooks for their family with someone who cooks for a living. I am not busting all you cooks. Someone out there is probably saying “my grandmother was the best, etc……)” Yes she was and she should be in your eyes. You know what I mean.
So after that we spent some time with our daily drills of cutting potatoes, carrots, and celery for mirepoix (base for soups)-2 parts onions, 1 parts celery and 1 part carrots. That is always fun. I was working with my blister. I moved back from choking the knife and it hurt my hand less. I did some good cutting. The pieces needed to be squared off according to Chef. I did get the small shape and consistency down.
Then we spoke about oils and fats. We played with olive oil–BTW–it is not for frying. It is just for flavoring and mildly sauteing. We put some in a pot and heated it up to the smoke point and boy was it smoking. That was about 225 degrees. At about 275, after 2 minutes or so, a large bonfire appeared. Fire is scary even when under control. I was just waiting but wanting to cover my eyes as fire truly scares me. I saw a house burning on my street once and no one close to the house called the FD. I, who lived at the top of the block and saw it out of the corner of my house was the one who called. People are strange.
So after paying with fire, we tried out different oils for frying. We made eggs–double yoked sunny side up and then scrambled. We were expected to flip in the pan–well 1/4 of mine ended up on the stove in the burner part. Obviously I could not reach in, even with thongs or a fork or whatever.
I made the two eggs, trying out peanut oil, for the sunny side up eggs and sesame for the scrambled. What a difference an oil makes!! Sesame is strong–I almost felt like tossing some chix in there with some peppers and onions. (A little carried away.)
After lunch, well after all the eggs, I just had a piece of my homemade flat bread and half a fruit n granola bar.
In the evening, the fun began. There were gloves set up, and then in the back large tubs of packed fish. OH YEAH (like Joey on friends) We watched a demonstration then started on flounder, a right off of the boat (well de-scaled of course) but that was all. We cut off the fins with shears. We cut the head in a V shape and then took a paper towel, grabbed on to the top of the head, and twisted it off–pulling out the yummy guts. Sometimes the guts got stuck and burst so you had the yellow stuff puss-ing out. That needed to be washed immediately as it is the toxic crap. We then proceeded to skin and fillet the flounder, removing the bones and all. After that, the party continued. We did a round fish, hybrid bass. It was silver with yellow polka dots along the bottom/belly. That one had the guts already pulled out, so it was just to cut the head and fillet. We scored the skin–something about the meat being able to cook better. When the skin is intact, it tends to curl up rather than remain flat. CURLY FISH ANYONE!! 🙂 We then did a Spanish Mackerel. We sliced along the belly and reached in, pulling out the guts–in this case we could not rip it out as it was connected to the rest of the fish. We reached in and pulled the stuff out as far as we could and cut the connective tissue. It is like putting your hand in gooey stuff and having to be an adult about it. WE WORE GLOVES THE WHOLE EXERCISE and were encouraged to change as often as needed or if we cut it. We filleted the fish but left the skin on. We again scored the skin and this time had to use our tweezers to pull out bones.
I did pretty well on the second fish. Some of the guys were massacring the fish and there was blood everywhere, on them, all over the cutting board, pouring out–mad scientist kind of stuff. I thought that leaving some of the meat on the bone was bad–I think I would rather have that than a blood bath on my table and on my uniform.
At the end, the chef showed us how to do a salmon. It is one of the fat fishes so you can get steaks, or scalloped fillets out of them. It took him 10 minutes to break it down to where you can plop it in the oven/broiled/poaching situation and serve it to 12 of your closes friends and maybe 8 of your not so close friends–they get the pate, salmon sushi, salmon cakes.
Thank goodness for gloves. No fishy smell.
Cheers and Enjoy Life.