Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cooking Class At The N.C. Aquarium.

Mr. Hawthorne, Glowria, xmaskatie, and I went to the North Carolina Aquarium yesterday for another cooking class in the series they are offering.
I must tell you I had my reservations about this one because we were told that the featured seafood would be ... Bluefish.
And I. Hate. Bluefish.
Frankly, I don't know anybody who likes it.
There's a story everybody tells down here about how to cook bluefish:
Put the bluefish, onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, and some variations of the story have you add a brick, INto a pot, cover with water, boil, throw the bluefish out, and eat the brick.
That said, let's get on with the class.

The chef was Marc-Jean Berruet. His father is French, and Chef Marc was born in France. He moved to the US at a young age and grew up in the restaurant business so to speak. His father, Jean Charles Berruet is a chef too, so at the tender age of 14, Marc was manning a station in his father's restaurant in Nantucket.
He returned to France to train under the same chef (in his 80's) who had trained his father 30 years previously.
He moved to the Outer Banks in 2003 and he and his wife are the proprietors of
The Pearl restaurant, located in the Sea Ranch Hotel in Kill Devil Hills.

Chef Marc told us he would be preparing bluefish and we would actually like it.
He started off by showing us how to fillet a blue fish. Then he told us about his special marinade, claiming the marinade takes the oil out of bluefish. Now, if you've never had bluefish, it is indeed a very oily fish and a "fishy" fish.

Here's his Marinade

1 cup water
3 TB olive oil
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 jalapenoes, chopped
peel of 1 whole lemon
1 TB coriander seed
1 TB cumin
pinch saffron
2 TB grated ginger
6 mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process.
Reserve one cup of marinade for the sauce.
Pour the rest of the marinade to cover the bluefish 1/4 inch scaloppini.
Marinate for 6-8 hours.

Now for the Sauce:

1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 cup fish stock
1 cup marinade

Saute the chopped tomato in 1 TB olive oil until cooked.
Add fish stock and 1 cup of the marinade.
Add salt as needed.
Cook sauce for 15 minutes.
Place in blender and run until smooth.
Add 2-3 TB butter.
Set aside and keep warm.

Now, on to the bluefish:

Take out of marinade.
Dredge scaloppini in flour, then dip in 2 beaten eggs with 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tsp. olive oil,
salt, and pepper.

Heat oil and saute bluefish for 2 minutes on each side.

He recommended a garnish of fried green pepper rings, which unfortunately he didn't make.
I thought some green would have made this dish a bit more visually appealing.
(Cut a green pepper into slices. Dip each ring first in flour, then in the leftover beaten eggs. Saute in olive oil for approximately 2 minutes each side. Drain.

Next, Chef Marc prepared Risotto.

1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
(He recommended a Pinot Gris, Reisling, Chardonnay, or Gewurztraminer.)
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 TB shallots
1/4 tsp garlic
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4 stick butter, unsalted

Place rice, wine, and stock in heavy pot, bring
to boil, turn heat down and let simmer for approximately 15-18 minutes, until rice is al dente.
Add remaining ingredients.
Season to taste.

And here's the plated dish.
Now, Chef Marc was right about one thing: I'd never had bluefish prepared this way. And it was good. But sorry, it's still bluefish. The risotto was wonderful creamy, rich goodness.
The sauce was delicious.
The bluefish was ... bluefish.
I'm sorry, but I just don't like bluefish.
Chef Marc, you can't polish a turd, but you came damn close.
I congratulate you.
And you can see where the presentation might have benefited from a bit of greenery.
I'll definitely make the sauce, but maybe use it with a swordfish, which is another fairly oily fish.
By the way, the name of the dish was Beignets de Bluefish Timgad - Bluefish with a North African flavor.)
(Timgad is a Roman town in Algeria where Chef Marc's father was during the war and this was his father's recipe.)

Now, on to dessert.
Tarte aux Pommes Chaude or Hot Apple Tart to those of you who ne parlez pas Francais.

1 medium apple (preferably Granny Smith)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
puff pastry
1 ounce unsalted butter
1 ounce sugar

This makes 1 tart per person. Repeat recipe as needed.

Peel and cut apple into thin slices. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from browning. Set aside.
Roll out puff pastry 1/4 inch thick.
Cut a circle 8 inches in diameter.
Score a second circle inside the first, 1 inch from edge to form a border when cooking.
Neatly arrange apple slices on pastry circle, keeping slices inside border.
Put a few pieces of butter on top and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes.
Add a bit more butter and sugar and bake another 10 minutes.
Serve hot with a Calvados-flavored creme anglaise.

Creme Anglaise
12 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 liter milk
Mix yolks and sugar.
Bring milk to boil.
Add a bit of the milk in the yolk/sugar mixture to temper.
Pour into a clean pot to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened.
Add a bit of Calvados (apple brandy) for flavor.

This was quite yummy.


Unknown said...

Never thought I'd enjoy bluefish, but the sauce made the dish. I think I'll try it with mahi if I make it.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

His Daddy Chef makes it with mahi.

Zeno said...

...well, we like bluefish, if it's very fresh (OK Rosie, you ain't got no excuse for stale fish.) I've had great bluefish in Boston. Pierre Franey has a gazillion recipes for it. Now if we could just get swordfish that doesn't taste like fiberglass insulation I'd be happy..,