There’s Something Fishy Going On

fish_done

Unit 19: Fish focuses on becoming more comfortable and proficient with cooking and handling fish. It begins with buying and storing fish, moves on to determining the freshness and proper ways to handle this perishable item, then addresses how to properly prepare both oily and lean fish, and ends by teaching pan frying which happens to be my personal favorite way to prepare fish. More…

Unit 19: Fish focuses on becoming more comfortable and proficient with cooking and handling fish. It begins with buying and storing fish, moves on to determining the freshness and proper ways to handle this perishable item, then addresses how to properly prepare both oily and lean fish, and ends by teaching pan frying which happens to be my personal favorite way to prepare fish.

If you take nothing more from my ramblings, I hope that you consider trying the following recipe from my graded assignment called Simple Asian Trout. I cannot exactly explain why, but it is perfection on a plate. You just have to trust me on this. In order to complete this dish, I measured out 1/2 cups of tamari, minced 1 tablespoon each of garlic and ginger, and ground some fresh black pepper. I mixed them together in a 8×8 casserole dish. I then de-boned the steel-head trout and portioned out the pieces; removing some of the thin section on the side (of which I fried up later for my pup). I then put the pieces of fish skin-side up in the dish to marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge making sure to spoon some of the marinade over the skin.

fish_mise

Once the fish was ready to be cooked, I heated the fry pan to medium-high and added the oil. The original recipe called for the fish to be cooked skin-side down, but I chose to cook the skin side last as the other side was to be my presentation side (I always give my pup the skin of the fish as a treat). I turned the fillets over when they were cooked approximately half way through and had formed a nice crust. I then cooked for a little under 2 minutes on the other side.

fish_in

To tell when the fish was done, I used one of the fillets and allowed the flesh to open slightly taking advantage of the natural flake lines to see inside. The fish was pink and opaque around the edge and somewhat of a translucent salmon color on the inside on my first view so I took the lot of them off the heat and out of the pan immediately. I did not want them to cook much more. While the fish had been marinading, I took the opportunity to roast some Brussels sprouts with salt, pepper, and olive oil. When the sprouts were almost done, I sprinkled a bit of tamari on them and put them back in the oven for a few minutes. The steel head and sprouts were done at almost the exact same time, so I was able to plate immediately. I will definitely make the steel head again with this marinade. Interestingly, it firmed up the fish a bit which allowed for it to be cooked less resulting in an extremely moist fillet.

fish_done

Brodie, my dog, and I will miss this unit, but will take what I have learned and use it to make our fish dishes even better. Brodie may be patient, but I am chomping at the bit!

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Sharpening My Skills

vegcutsI have spent the last few days slicing, dicing, and chopping, all in an attempt to perfect my knife skills. It started with cutting through flour with a pastry scraper for about a half an hour as lookers-on shook their heads in confusion. It may have looked odd, but it really did help perfect the rolling action but without a doubt it was even more helpful in adjusting to the proper position of my guide hand and its precious fingers. It took quite a while to get the hang of the connection between my guide-knuckle and the pastry scraper. To be honest, I am still working on it, but with each assignment, I am getting more and more comfortable with it. From experience with several unintended slices and dices to my own fingers, I can tell you that learning proper technique is paramount. More…
I have spent the last few days slicing, dicing, and chopping, all in an attempt to perfect my knife skills. It started with cutting through flour with a pastry scraper for about a half an hour as lookers-on shook their heads in confusion. It may have looked odd, but it really did help perfect the rolling action but without a doubt it was even more helpful in adjusting to the proper position of my guide hand and its precious fingers. It took quite a while to get the hang of the connection between my guide-knuckle and the pastry scraper. To be honest, I am still working on it, but with each assignment, I am getting more and more comfortable with it. From experience with several unintended slices and dices to my own fingers, I can tell you that learning proper technique is paramount. In addition to learning how to keep safe with a knife, there was also time spent practicing how to hone a knife to keep the blade sharp. While a steel cannot sharpen the knife, it can reduce how frequently said blade needs to be sharpened.

From there, I received my first assignment in the unit; to practice my rolling and dicing techniques with onions, tomatoes, celery, and green pepper, and then mix them into a Moroccan couscous dish. I ended up adding a few more ingredients to round out the color. We had it for dinner (and the next day for lunch). For each ingredient, I had to upload an image of the ingredient cut into a small dice as shown below:

small_dice

 

I had a little trouble with the onion and it was no surprise when my instructor subtracted points because of this issue. His comments were constructive and relevant. I felt he was interested in helping me improve my skills. Overall, I got a 91% on the assignment so while the onions got the best of me, I cannot complain, overall.

Getting Started!

The second unit got down and dirty about food and kitchen safety and cleanliness. I learned something that I had not even remotely known before regarding rice. Did you know that Bacillus cereus is a pathogen found in rice? B. cereus is killed by heat, but its spores are not. If rice is not cooled and stored properly, the spores can emerge from dormancy and contaminate the rice, causing foodborne illness. This is something I will not soon forget as I make rice often and have probably been putting my family at risk. Who knew? Obviously not me!That was not the end of interesting tid bits discussed in Unit Two. More…
My online cookery schooling is going well so far. I have completed two units out of 27 and even got to cook and write about Potato Leek Soup. While the first two units were about basic information, it was actually informative stuff.The first unit went over course expectations and gave everyone an idea of how the program will work and the model it was based on called the Map of Cooking. Basically, to paraphrase, the Map of Cooking will help me make more informed decisions, decipher recipes, apply the right technique, better understand flavor development—and ultimately, help me understand the world of food and cooking better. In addition, we went over kitchen tools and equipment, and a bit of insight into the kitchen of a restaurant and its inhabitants.

The second unit got down and dirty about food and kitchen safety and cleanliness. I learned something that I had not even remotely known before regarding rice. Did you know that Bacillus cereus is a pathogen found in rice? B. cereus is killed by heat, but its spores are not. If rice is not cooled and stored properly, the spores can emerge from dormancy and contaminate the rice, causing foodborne illness. This is something I will not soon forget as I make rice often and have probably been putting my family at risk. Who knew? Obviously not me!

That was not the end of interesting tid bits discussed in Unit Two. I went on to learn the correct way to wash my hands, how to buy and store food, ways to keep food safe while preparing, how best to clean up, and the plethora of ways you can get hurt in the kitchen—if you are not careful.

This info may seem a bit dry, but it really wasn’t. I attribute this to two things:

  1. The way it was presented through various types of content including written word, videos, and interactive game-like snippets, sporadic quizzes, and feedback.
  2. Once you start reading a little bit about how things can go innocently awry, you sit up and take notice.

As of today, I have finished two units,  completed one assignment, taken a few quizzes, and aced one exam. Go me! I am excited for tomorrow when I start Unit Three: Knives, Knife Cuts, and Knife Sharpening and will participate in the first live interaction with the group via the web.