Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Another Cooking Class.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Hawthorne, Glowria, and I headed down to Manteo to the North Carolina Aquarium (also know as Akworium to some) for another very enjoyable and instructive cooking class. Chef Rob from the Bad Bean Taqueria in Corolla, NC was the guest chef. Upon coming into the classroom and sitting, we were immediately served homemade tortilla chips, a delicious guacamole, and Chef Rob's Fire-Roasted Tomatillo and Poblano Pepper Salsa.
This is my kind of cooking class.
Bring on the munchies.

Naturally, I immediately hogged the chips and dips to shoot a picture,
much to the dismay of my tablemates.

Chef Rob first discussed the various types of peppers - poblano, ancho (dried poblano)), jalapeno, chipotle (dried jalapeno), anaheim, pasilla, and juajillo- and other ingredients used in Mexican cuisine. One I had never heard of was episote or "dirty skunk." He didn't use it in any of the dishes he prepared tonight, but said we could use it in chilis to give them a certain je ne sais quoi.
Well, the certain je ne sais quoi to me would be paint or turpentine (and several at my table agreed with me), but then I didn't used to like cilantro, and I'd be willing to give episote a try if I could just find it. Closest place is a Farmer's Market in Raleigh so maybe I'll get Daughter Hawthorne to bring me some next time she comes home. After all, if you recall, she OWES me BIG TIME after her
heinous act of espieglerie on April Fool's Day.

Chef Rob then left the room coming back a few seconds later with the mahi mahi.

I asked him if he'd gotten the fish out of one of the aquarium tanks
since he'd headed in that direction.

This is about a 15 pound mahi mahi, which Chef Rob deftly filleted and skinned, and cut into small pieces. He then zested and juiced a lime and sprinkled that over the fish, along with 1 TB cumin and 3 TB canola oil. Toss to blend flavors and you can marinade this overnight.

Here's Chef Rob's recipe for his
Fire-Roasted Tomatillo and Poblano Pepper Salsa:

20-25 fresh tomatillos with husk removed
4 poblano peppers
1-2 jalapeno peppers
1 white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. coriander
2 cups water
2 bunches fresh cilantro, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped.

Pre-heat broiler. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place peppers and tomatillos in large bowl and toss with canola oil to coat. Sprinkle with salt.

Toast tomatillos and peppers on all sides until darkened all over. When cool, pulse in a blender, using the liquid released from the tomatillos and peppers. Leave the mixture somewhat chunky.

Add 2 TB canola oil to large, heavy bottomed pot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute until onions are translucent. Add coriander and cook for 10-20 seconds.

Immediately add tomatillo and pepper puree and the 2 cups water. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes to incorporate the flavors.

To finish, fold in the cilantro and season with salt as needed. Cool salsa. It will thicken as it sits in the refrigerator.

Next, Chef Rob made his Mayonnaise.

He whisked one egg yolk and added the zest and juice of 1 lime, some cumin, and some salt. He whisked constantly as he added canola oil until he had a nice emulsion. Not as thick as regular Hellman's mayonnaise, but nice and creamy, the way he wanted it.

Now a note about emulsions, whether they be a mayonnaise or a hollandaise: If you add too much fat and have too little acid, your emulsion will break and separate. So, watch the oil as you whisk it in.

Now, onto the Jicama Cilantro Cole Slaw

1 large jicama
1 head green cabbage
1 bunch cilantro, washed dried, and coarsely chopped
2 tsp. sugar
1 TB cumin
2 tsp. salt
1 lime
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup homemade mayonnaise

Remove the outer skin of the jicama and julienne.
Remove outer leaves of cabbage and core and slice very thinly.
Toss jicama and cabbage with sugar and salt.
Let sit for 1/2 hour.

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, 1 TB cumin, cayenne pepper, lime zest and juice, and salt TO TASTE.

Add the mayonnaise mixture to the jicama and cabbage.
Add the cilantro and toss all together.

Now, a few tips here:

The more you work with garlic, chopping and mincing it, the hotter it gets.
Same goes with ginger.

If you wet your fingers and knife when working with garlic, the garlic won't stick.

Add your lime juice directly on top of the garlic. It mellows the flavor.

And in regular dishes where you might use a regular green pepper, substitute a poblano for something a little different.

Mahi Mahi Tacos

Place flour tacos on hot grill or non-stick pan over high heat and toast lightly on both sides.

Heat a large, heavy, cast iron pan over medium high. Add fish and sear on both sides until just cooked through, making sure not to overcook.

Assemble the tacos by placing fish, then slaw in toasted tortilla. Top with salsa or guacamole or hot sauce. Or all three as I did.

I'll be making these.

Thanks to Chef Rob for a very informative and interesting demonstration.
This guy knew his stuff.

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