Lesson 9: Shellfish!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today was a verrrry interesting day!  The day started out as usual with an hour of chopping tons of veggies for our mirepoix.  Here's a pic of a HUGE onion I had to chop up!
Chef lectured and demonstrated how to clean and fabricate a variety of shellfish, including clams, shrimp, mussels, oysters, scallops, and LOBSTER.  Most people in the class got a squeamish look when Chef showed us how to stab the lobster, slice down the head and again down the tail.  It was finally time to grab a lobster and try it out for myself.. Here's a picture of my poor lobster on my cooking board:
Chef showed us how to calm down a lobster by petting its back... so I did this for a good 5 minutes before chopping it open.  After mentally preparing myself, I finally did it... and kept frantically asking the people around me if I was doing it right.  I knew that if you didn't do it quick enough, the lobster was suffering so I wanted to make sure I killed it right away!  I didn't want to hurt the poor thing :(     I continued fabricating the lobster by taking out the roe and the liver..while doing so, the legs were still moving!  Naturally, I screamed "ahh its moving!!!!!"..but was reassured by the rest of the group that it was dead and everything was going to be okay! I twisted the claws off and threw the head into the stock pot for our shellfish stock!  After that, i prepared the calamari by taking a squid and basically pulling it apart and de-gutting it to get the nice rings and tiny tentacles at the bottom of the squid.  This was reserved for the seafood chowder.  Next, I peeled and de-veined the shrimp, which was a peice-a-cake... I've done this before, plus they were dead and didn't have any guts :)

We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and shucking clams and oysters.  After the lobster was cooked, Chef demonstrated how to crack the lobster claws in the correct places to get all of the meat out for our chowder.  After the stock was strained, our huge 3 pots of seafood chowder was made.  All of our vegetables were added to the pan to sweat, then our stock was added, along with all of the seafood we prepared.  While we were waiting for our chowder to cook, we had some oysters and clam on the half shell.  Yes, it was my first time trying this.. I have to admit, I don't know what the big fuss is about this.. just tasted slimy and had no real flavor.  I'm guessing it is an acquired taste that i have yet to acquire ;)  
Finally our chowder was ready to eat!  This is "million dollar chowder" because there is sooo much fresh seafood in it.  The meat of 17 lobsters, shrimp, oysters, clams, mussels, and calamari!  It was one delicious soup!  So flavorful and creamy!  I brought a large container home.. I knew my dad and brother would love it!  My poor brother didn't get any though because my dad ate it!  He enjoyed it a lot and admitted that you can't get soup like that anywhere. I think my dad's exact words were "Take a picture of me eating the soup!!!  I want to be in your blog!!!"  So here ya go, dad! (love you)


Saveroomfordessert said...

Allison, this is amazing! I'm so glad that you are documenting this. Your pictures are fantastic...I just hope I don't have lobster nightmares. :)

(ICE culinary '10)

Joy Manning said...

Perhaps the oysters themselves were an issue? The first time I had oysters was at a media event and I was not impressed. Like you, I thought they lacked flavor. But in recent years I've become kind of fanatical about them. (I even named my new food blog after them.) I have found that they must be freshly shucked and the oyster liquor must be retained for maxium flavor. I also prefer smaller varieties and saltier varieties. If you go to an oyster bar and try a bunch of different kinds and ask a lot of questions, I bet you'll walk away getting what the big deal is. Oysters are amazingly delicious. I promise.

La Bella Cucina said...

Wow very interesting!! I'll definitely have to try them again! Thanks for the advice!!

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