Lesson 36: Steaming & Salmon En Papillote

Monday, January 11, 2010

Today we made a variety of seafood dishes as we learned the cooking technique of steaming.  I have not had a lot of experience with steaming, so I loved learning how to cook more healthily without losing flavor.  In fact, steaming just brings out the natural flavors of whatever you are cooking and everything tasted fantastic!  It was nice leaving the kitchen today without feeling greasy, smelly, and weighed down haha!

We made four dishes today: Clams with saffron and tomatoes, Mussels steamed in white wine, Salmon en papillote, and Steamed Chinese Sea Bass with sticky rice and vegetables.  

I am still getting used to the taste and texture of shellfish like clams and mussels, so I wasn't in love with these dishes.  The sauces were really good though!  We served the clams with croutes that were topped with a parmesan butter (mmm!)

I feel like I spent like two hours fine-julienne'ing vegetables for the salmon.  Dicing and slicing is so therapeutic to me, that I sort of zone out and go through the motions.  I julienne'd far more than what was needed, but I definitely got my knife skills for the day!

Matt and Robert worked together fabricating the HUGE salmon (shown above) for our en papillotes.  I love love loved this dish!!!!!  It was so easy, flavorful and adjustable for any fish and veggies.  We cut out parchment paper in the shape of a big heart.  I placed some veggies in the crease of the heart and sprinkled a little salt on top.  Next, I placed the seasoned salmon on top, and topped it with more veggies (we used a mix of leeks, peppers, squash, zucchini, and snow peas).  I also sprinkled on some minced shallot and sprigs of thyme.  The final touch was a bit more salt, and a drizzle of olive oil and white wine.  I sealed up my individual salmon-veggie dish and placed it in the oven with the 15 other salmon packets in the oven.  In about 8 minutes, it was done!  I cut into my pouch and could smell all of the wonderful aromas flow out.  I usually don't like salmon that much, but this fish was done perfectly and had soo much flavor for having so little ingredients!  I can't express enough how much I loved this simple piece of fish.  I wish I knew how to make this in college because this is the perfect single-serving healthy supper!

I can't wait to experiment with this cooking technique using a variety of fish, veggies, and herbs.  There are so many possibilities!

The Steamed Chinese Striped Bass was another delicious and flavorful dish!  The soy sauce marinade was perfect for this flaky, delicate fish.  The veggies were steamed to perfection and the rice was so sticky that we couldn't even get it all out of the steamer--just stuck to everything!

We ended the day with some extra knife skills... Extra hard knife skills that is.  We learned out to tourne a potato.  This is the most difficult type of cut and took us all by surprise as we made our first attempts to make this 7-sided cylinder.  Here's a picture that I google-imaged of a tourne-cut... Obviously my first attempts were not picture worthy!

I'm going to need a lot of practice on this one, and Chef made sure to give us all some extra potatoes to bring home to practice on.  I think I better set my alarm clock a little earlier than usual so I have time to carefully make my second attempt without cutting my thumb off!  Wish me luck!

On another note (before I get watch Chef Academy and head to bed!)  I made use of my leftover eggplant and lentils from Friday and made a wonderful lunch for my mom and I yesterday.  Instead of making another casserole, I baked a spinach tortilla and spread on some organic salsa, then layered on some eggplant and lentils.  I sprinkled on some goat cheese and baked it in the oven until it was hot and the cheese melted.  I added some cayenne pepper since I love everything nice and spicy!! :)


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