Two Mondays ago was our final Culinary Skills Lab class at L’Academie de Cuisine. And that can only mean one thing – Market Basket! Somewhat like Iron Chef, the class is divided into teams, with each team choosing a secret ingredient, addition ingredients from the pantry, and winging the rest. After pulling a random piece of paper out of a hat, Val and I had #5 (to pick from the pantry) and whole rock fish. I didn’t see any fish. Ah, it was in the refrigerator.
After a quick brainstorming session, we decided to pay homage to a great Asian fish dish we prepared during an earlier class. In the original preparation, we grilled a whole red snapper after marinating it in Asian flavors, and then serving it with an Asian sauce with lots of hot peppers – yummie. We also decided to make a small slaw on the side for texture and plate the fish on top of wasabi mashed potatoes. I set to work breaking down the fish, first cutting out the filets and then skinning them.
Mis En Place
Along the way, Val suggested steaming the fish and sent one of the kitchen assistants in search of a hotel pan and a perforated steaming insert. While Val worked on mis en place for the slaw – cabbage and julianed carrots, I made a marinade with soy sauce, mirin, ginger, galanga, scallions, siracha, and some sesame oil. As the fish marinated, we peeled and started cooking the potatoes, and worked on a sauce for the fish with fish sauce, sugar, lime, jalapeno chilies, thai chilies, thai basil, and sesame oil.
After chatting w/ Chef Sandy, we decided to cut the fish into small cubes and also fry some ginger to garnish the dish. As we whipped cream, butter, and wasabi into the potatoes, steamed the fish on two burners on the stove, sautéed the slaw, fried the ginger, and tasted the sauce, things got a bit crazy, but it was excellent in the end.
The Finished Product
Steamed rockfish with a spicy Asian sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes, fried ginger crisp, and a carrot cabbage slaw.
And that one only one of 10+ other amazing dishes. Check out some of the other team’s creations…
Thin French Toast with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and Peanut Butter Sauce
Roasted Red Pepper, Pineapple, avocado, and shrimp Salad
Duo of Advocado Salad and Homemade Boursin with Bacon on Toast Points
Pineapple Tart Te Tan with Pecans Three Ways and Homemade Whipped Cream
After class, we thanked Chef Sandy with a ‘Till It’s Done mug that included a picture of her favorite – scalloped tongs. After all, it was Chef Sandy who always answered the question “How long do I cook this?” with “Until it’s done”. In the 24 weeks of Culinary Skills Lab, we learned about knife skills, chicken, pork, veal, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, salads, breads, sauces, wine, stock, soup, grains, pasta, and countless tips, techniques, and other good kitchen sense. We met lots of great people and had an awesome time cooking, chatting, and sharing in the joy that is cooking. Val and I thank our classmates, kitchen assistants, L’Academie, Table 5, and Chef Sandy for making it a great experience. Until we take our next cooking class…
-Val and Adam, Table 5