Day 106: poissonnier, arctic char, and some more practical advice on fish

30 Nov

Today, I moved to poissonnier and made the arctic char dish, for 7 customers to be exact. Arctic char is such a beautiful looking fish.  Unfortunately, our recipe pairs it with a chickpea cake that tastes like complete ____ and a radicchio that’s just not tasty.  Granted, it was my first day making the dish so one needs to consider that there is likely some error in my execution, but the reality is that every person in our class hates the chickpea cake.  The cake tastes dirty, the texture if gummy, it’s not attractive in appearance, and it’s just not a good pairing for the lovely char.  I would never dare speak for our chefs, but I have a good idea that they aren’t disagreeing with me here, at least not in whole.

On a brighter note, I want to share Chef Peter’s very practical “trick” for helping fish and sticky items not stick to a pan (this is for regular pans, not nonstick pans).  Yes, the obvious is that you need to get your pan really hot, the oil needs to be hot, and you need to leave your protein alone for a bit until it gets to a point where it wants unstick itself in the pan prior to you flipping it. But, Chef Peter also reminded me of something he learned.  “Season” your pan, in a sense.  Put it on heat, pour in some oil and a couple tablespoons of salt, and let it sit over medium heat for a few minutes. Then, take a dish towel and rub the salt and oil in the bottom of the pan. Then, wipe it all out, and start your searing process as you would normally  i.e. heat your pan, then throw in your oil, wait until it’s hot, then put in your protein to sear it.  When I did that, the skin got crispy and brown on my char (without having to cheat and use flour) and it stayed intact.  Thanks, Chef.

Changing gears, one condiment I love is salsa. I think salsas are super versatile. They pep up any meal. For me, they can go on breakfast, lunch or dinner; they can be sweet or savory or both; they can be spicy or not.  But, the best ones are fresh.  When I was in Hawaii, we made a breakfast salsa to go with our egg, bacon and opah lettuce wrap.  Here’s the super simple salsa, followed by the recipe:

Papaya, pineapple, tomato salsa:

Ingredients:

1/2 of a papaya, small dice

2 rings of fresh pineapple, small dice

1 teaspoon of minced red onion

1 roma tomato, seeded and small dice

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

juice of 1 lime

salt to taste

red chili flakes or fresh chili finely minced, to taste

Directions: Mix altogether in a bowl and serve immediately.  This salsa doesn’t really keep as it starts to break down, so make only as much as you’re going to eat in one sitting.

And, the breakfast wrap:

Mmmmm, I’m craving breakfast now.

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