Friday, March 22, 2013

The Hawthornes Attend Cooking Class At The North Carolina Aquarium.

 I'm so happy when Spring comes.
a mere 21 miles away, 
will be starting their seafood cooking classes.

 The Hawthornes' first class is conducted by Chef Tony Duman,

Chef Pok of the OBBS
left for greener pastures,
after he was featured in Gue Fee-ye-dee's

I was thirsty.

Chef Duman prepares our first selection -
oysters with an apple and horseradish mignonette.
A mignonette sauce is a classic condiment
for raw oysters.
Typically, it contains vinegar and shallots,
but may include other seasonings as well.

For the mignonette:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 TB Granny Smith apple, finely chopped
1 TB shallots, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh horseradish, finely chopped
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
Mix all ingredients and refrigerate at least 20 minutes.
Top freshly shucked oysters (12 large or 24 small)
 with the mignonette.

Chef Duman was going to serve the mignonette
on raw oysters which I was perfectly fine with;
however, he asked the crowd whether they preferred cooked
and everybody's hand, besides mine, went up.
Bunch o' wussies.
Chef Duman poached the oysters
for a minute or so in water and a lemongrass wheat ale
produced by the Outer Banks Brewing Station.

He tops the oysters with the mignonette.

I liked the flavors here, especially the apple,
which I wouldn't have thought of adding.
I'd go for more horseradish.
Didn't really taste it.
My only problem here?
I only got two oysters!
I could've easily eaten a dozen of these.
Next Chef Duman started on rockfish
with fennel, ginger, and shallots en papillote.
For 25 people.
He could have used an assistant here.

 En papillote is French for "in parchment."
It's a moist-heat cooking method in which the food
is put in a folded package, sealed, and baked.
The food is steamed in its own flavorful liquids and juices.
As the packet is heated,
air inside expands and the flavors of the ingredients
are swept into it.
Basically, the ingredients are cooked with flavored air
and form a sauce of their own essence.
Some understanding of your ingredients
is necessary so you would know
what flavors and seasonings work together.
This method of cooking encourages
the items in the package to flavor each other.
For example, a fish filet is infused with an onion
and the onion is infused with the fish.
They're both infused with lemon.
Add fresh herbs and wine and you have 
something that's more than the sum of its parts.

Chef Duman recommended a book,
which I might have to check out.

Chef Duman suggested you could use foil,
but he prefers parchment paper.
If you used foil,
you could prepare the packages ahead of time,
say the night before.
With parchment, you can't do this.
Some of the juices might leak out.

And you know what?
I've never baked anything en papillote before.
For shame, Rosie!

I've told you this before.
This is the reason I love these cooking classes.
I LEARN something NEW every time.

Now, I will add en papillote to my repertoire.

While Chef Duman was papilloting 25 servings,
I took the opportunity to take a tour through the aquarium.

The otters were particularly playful today.

My friends, the turtles,
were so glad to see me.
They're posing for me.

Rockfish with Fennel, Ginger, and Shallots En Papillote
4 rockfish filets
freshly ground salt and pepper
3 TB soy sauce
1/2 cup lemongrass wheat beer or your favorite light lager or pale ale
3 TB olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
cilantro, chopped
1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and julienned
1 TB rice wine
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, mix soy sauce, beer, mirin, and olive oil.  Set aside.
Cut a heart-shaped piece of parchment paper for each filet.
Place fish up against the fold on one of the halves of the heart.
Spread on slices of fennel bulb, shallots, and ginger.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a tablespoon or two of the liquid mixture over the filets.  Top with chopped cilantro, then close the heart by folding the other half back over the fish.   To seal, begin at the top of the heart, fold over a small piece, move to the right and fold over the next piece so that it holds down the first fold.  Continue moving to the right, fold after fold, until you've worked all the way around the heart to the tip.  Tuck tip under the parchment.

Place parchment packages onto a baking tray and into a 350° oven for 15 minutes  The fish will cook in the sealed parchment and the liquids will be sealed in with the fish, infusing the fish with the flavors of the liquid and aromatic herbs.

The rockfish was served with sauteed red onions, sliced steamed potatoes, and fennel.

Too bad you can't smell this,
as the slit is cut and the steam and aromas waft out of the packet.
I don't know why I haven't prepared fish en papillote before.
This must be rectified.
I even have a few fennel plants in the garden.
I've used the leaves,
but I've always hesitated pulling the whole plant up for the bulb.
Just might have to sacrifice one of my fennels.

After another enjoyable class,
the Happy Hawthornes head home.
One never knows what one will see on the bypass.


Marilyn said...

I just might have to try the recipe for the fish en papillote.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

I think you might just have to, Mar. I'm getting ready to do speckled trout en papillote.