Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Intermediate Culinary Class: Fish appetizers

Continuing the investigation into flavors, this week we worked with fish. This was a long and busy night, with a number of recipes.

We started off making ceviche. Ceviche is raw fish that is marinaded in acid and flavorings. The acid denatures the proteins making it appear lightly cooked.

This ceviche has fresh red snapper cut in thin angled cuts across the grain. This slice is called a tranche. The slices of fish are arranged on the plate, and then soaked in lime juice. They were lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. On top are layered red onion, green onion, capers, cilantro, jalapeno, and a dash of Tabasco. We made that right away, then let it sit while we cooked the components of the more complex appetizer. We ate the slices of fish on  slices of baguette that had been lightly toasted.

I enjoyed this quite a lot. It was a nice mix of citrus, sharpness, and heat.

The more complex dish had a number of components. For the first time, we were required to make an attempt at presentation. The dish is pan seared red snapper with mushroom risotto, beet beurre blanc, olive and tomato tapenade, and white wine infused beets.

The first step is the beets. It is a bruniose (very fine dice) of beet sautéed in butter, then simmered in white wine until tender. When complete, the beets are strained, and the juice is reserved for the beurre blanc.

The tapenade is thin sliced pimento stuffed olives, diced tomato, garlic, red onion, and lemon zest, very lightly sautéed in olive oil.

The risotto is Arborio rice that is slowly cooked in liquid while being continuously stirred. The starchy short grained rice will release produces a creamy texture. For this risotto, we sautéed a little mirepoix (finely diced onion, carrot, and celery), garlic, mushroom, and jalapeno in butter. The rice is added, and cooked a few minutes in the hot fat, stirring to coat each grain. Water was added, a little at a time, cooking and stirring. It took about twenty minutes for the rice to reach an al dente texture, and have a creamy texture. Right at the end, some heavy cream and Parmesan cheese was added.

This is the first time I've tried making risotto. It turns out to be easier than I expected. It takes a little patience, and you need to be focused, but it isn't that tricky.

Beurre blanc means 'white butter' in French. It is an emulsion of butter in a white wine reduction. For this one, we used the beet infused wine, some more white wine, and a little white wine vinegar. We added some red onion and garlic, and reduced the volume by about half. We then added some fish stock. Once it was back up to temperature, we whisked in butter to form the emulsion. Finally, whisked in some heavy cream. It was a nice, slightly acidic sauce that went well with the fish and the risotto.

Finally, we pan seared some pieces of red snapper. With so much else going on, we just kept the fish simple.

All recipes courtesy chef Joe Orate.


Chef Joe's Peruvian Style Ceviche

4 oz. fresh red snapper fillets
juice of 2 limes
1/4 red onion, minced
1 bunch green onions, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 bunch cilantro, minced
1/4 cup capers
salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste

Slice fish very thin. Place in the bottom of a plate or shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with 1/3 of the lime juice. Layer on rest of ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper, and sprinkling with juice. When all ingredients are layered on, sprinkle as desired with Tabasco. Let marinade for 2 hours.

Chef Joe's Wine Infused Beets

1 beet, peeled and finely diced
3 oz. by wt. butter
1 cup white wine
salt to taste

In a small saucepan, sauté beet in butter. Add wine, simmer until tender. Drain, reserving juice for beurre blanc.

Chef Joe's Green Olive Tapenade

4 oz. by wt. pimento stuffed green olives
1 small tomato, peeled and diced
zest of 1 lemon
1 oz. fine diced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Briefly sauté all ingredients in olive oil.

Chef Joe's Mushroom Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice
3 oz. butter
1/4 cup finely diced mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 - 2 cups water
1 tsp. shredded Parmesan
2 oz. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan over medium high heat, sauté mirepoix, garlic, mushrooms, and jalapeno in butter. Add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice grains are coated with butter and lightly toasted. Add water a little at a time. Cook, stirring constantly, adding water as needed to keep rice a thick slurry. Cook until rice is creamy, and grains are al dente. Season with salt and pepper, stir in cream and cheese.

Chef Joe's Beet Beurre Blanc

Beat infused wine from previous recipe
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup fish stock
4 oz. butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place beet infused wine, wine, vinegar, onion, and garlic is a saucepan over medium high to high heat. Reduce volume by one half. Add stock, bring back to a simmer.  Whisk in butter, about one tsp. at a time. Whisk vigorously to form an emulsion. Whisk in heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Happy Eating!

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