Life Outside My Cube

My life, a work in progress.

Cooking Class, Week 4

Last night was to be fish stock night. However, we didn’t make fish stock. We didn’t even have a fish. We did take fish out of a can, though we didn’t make stock from it. Okay, we did make a kind of seafood “stock”, but more on that later.

We were all really hoping to learn how to deconstruct a fish and make stock. Chef’s reason was that whole fish were costly and not easily obtained for him, and fish heads and bones were all but impossible to get. Whatever; I guess there are limited funds and time for this class for him.

We all made three recipes again, this time crab cakes, salmon patties and seafood Newburg. We split into two groups – guys vs gals – to make the fried things, and all watched chef do the Newburg.

The four guys did the salmon. Pretty simple recipe – just combine salmon (de-skinned and de-boned by hand from the can), chopped onion, chopped fresh parsley, dill weed, lemon juice, eggs, bread crumbs, seasoning. I made the big mistake of dumping in what I thought were moist bread crumbs but were in fact chopped walnuts. I got most of ’em out, but it definitely added a new flavor. Fried in butter and/or oil until brown (the oil worked better).

I wasn’t watching what went into the crab cakes. Looked like onion, imitation crab, some liquid (cream?). Fried up very nice.

In the meantime, we unpackaged some frozen shrimp (already shelled and deveined), frozen bay scallops, and fake crab in a bowl. There was a fair amount of liquid after thawing; chef said this could substitute for fish stock, as there was a lot of flavor in it. I didn’t taste it. Heated on the stove, he added a cooled roux (sweated onions in butter with flour whisked in).  Added some semi-dry sherry, then some half & half, then cooked to a thin nappe.

Some puff pastry shells were baked earlier, and now cool. Chef called them “patty shells”, which I think is incorrect. Should be like this. We placed one uncapped shell in a welsh rarebit plate, with a scoop of the seafood Newburg on top, with one each of the crab cakes and salmon patties on the side.

The salmon patties were too dry – we should have added back in more of the drained salmon juice. Plus, when the patties were fried, they didn’t conform to the pan so only the high points got browned. Flattening them with the spatula helped. I should have added more juice or water.

The crab cakes were quite good, though a little weak on the flavor. Gals still won this round, in my mind.

The seafood Newburg was disappointing. The sauce was thin and certainly not bursting with flavor. My daughter thought the sherry was too pronounced; I couldn’t taste much of it. Most Newburg recipes call for egg yolks; none used here, and no nutmeg or cayenne/red pepper. It might have helped if the dish had cooked a while longer, to extract the seafood flavors and meld.

All in all a pretty disappointing evening. We finished just after 8pm, and sat around and talked until about 8:30. Not even a story about how Lobster Newburg came to be. Nothing to take away this evening, I’m afraid.


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