Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium - The Flying Fish.

On Monday, Mr. Hawthorne, Glowria, and I headed down to Manteo and met Xmaskatie for the second in a series of cooking classes at the North Carolina Aquarium Monday's demonstration was by Chefs Steve Whitley and Rob Matis of The Flying Fish Cafe. Our first dish was Charred Raw Tuna Nachos. The yellowfin tuna was coated with freshly ground peppercorns and seared in a pan for about 30 seconds on each side. It was then set aside to cool. A Wasabi cream was made by combining heavy cream and wasabi powder. A soy sauce reduction was made by bringing soy sauce to a rolling boil, lowering the heat, and cooking until the sauce was reduced to 2/3 and had the consistency of syrup. A simple salsa completed the dish- 3/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple and 1/4 cup pickled ginger.
To assemble, top fried wontons with Seaweed salad. Now when I heard we were having Seaweed salad I thought, "Great, I've always wanted to try Seaweed salad." Now that I've tried it, I won't have to eat it again. Two slices of the tuna went on top of the seaweed, then the chef drizzled with the soy reduction and wasabi cream, finishing with the salsa.
If you notice, I got very little soy reduction and what tiny bit of wasabi was there was undiscernible. Sniff. Sniff.
The pineapple and pickled ginger was very nice and light. I'll be using that salsa in some future dish. And what, you ask, does Seaweed salad taste like? It tastes just like what you would imagine. Like seaweed with sesame oil, red chili flakes, and sesame seeds. Oh. Small voice. I don't like raw tuna. Xmaskatie and I were the only ones in the class who didn't eat their seaweed. And I love fried wontons. But didn't love these. Kind of stale tasting to me. Next up was a lovely Roasted Corn Bisque with Lump Crabmeat. Garlic and onions were sauteed in a pan with oil until browned. The frozen corn was then added and roasted for about 10 minutes. ETA (Because I just remembered.): White wine was involved. Probably to deglaze the pan here. The corn mixture was placed in a blender with a Chipotle pepper which is a smoked jalapeno. ETA (Because Xmaskatie told me to): Don't fill the blender with hot liquid. You will have a nasty mess. Just process a little bit at a time. Heavy cream and chicken stock were heated in another pot until boiling. The corn, garlic, and onion mixture was added to the cream and stock and simmered for thirty minutes. The starch from the corn will thicken the bisque. The bisque was then strained, the crab meat was added to the cups, and the hot bisque poured over top.
Wow. This was excellent. Sweet. Rich. While I'm at it, thick and delicious, too. I'll definitely be making this.
You don't have to use crab meat with this. I'll probably make it with shrimp since I have pounds of it in my freezer.
Next on the menu was Pistachio Crusted Rockfish with Honey Butter over Mixed Greens. Rockfish, also known as striped bass, was cut into fillets and dipped in buttermilk first then a mixture of ground pistachios, flour, and salt and pepper. (1 part pistachios/3 parts flour) The fish was fried in oil until golden brown. It was served with a honey butter sauce drizzled over top (1 part honey/2 parts butter) on a bed of mixed greens. Swiss chard was finely chopped and sauteed in butter, then arugula was added, and finally spinach was added. Let the greens cook down until wilted then add in some apple cider vinegar.
I have to say, they gave us nice sized portions.
My fish was perfectly cooked - moist, light, flaky. The honey over top was delicious and would have complemented the vinegar very nicely, but the chefs forgot to bring the butter, and combined the honey with oil and left out the vinegar. But I can imagine what it would taste like. I've fried pistachio-encrusted fillets before and I love the flavor. Honey and butter would have put this over the top. And I always like vinegar on my greens. Very good presentation. And really good food. Last year, I came away from Flying Fish's presentation with a wonderful dish I've made numerous times, always to rave reviews - their seared scallops sitting on a parmesan crisp atop a bed of risotto with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach. and with basil pesto and caramelized onions on top. Now I have the roasted corn bisque and the pistachio rockfish with honey butter on top of mixed greens. This alone is worth it.


Judy said...

I wish I had been at that cooking class. Manteo is a little far for me, but the fish really looks great. How do they think of these recipes, any way? I love the idea of wasabi cream and pistachio crusted fish.

Unknown said...

I found the wontons hard to cut with a fork, but really liked the ginger pineapple salsa. I will be attempting the bisque and the rockfish soon. I had a good time, and will now go out of my way to eat a meal at the Flying Fish.

Hairball T. Hairball said...

That roasted corn bisque
with lump crabmeat has me drooling. I llllove crab.

Marilyn said...

I am so jealous! If you do decide to make some of these dishes, please blog the process. Please?

Maris said...

SOunds like so much fun! I love seafood but have it so rarely